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130328 WHO Draft action plan for the prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment 2014-2019


130328 WHO Draft action plan for the prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment 2014-2019

Towards universal eye health: a global action plan 2014–2019
Report by the Secretariat

In January 2012 the Executive Board reviewed progress made in implementing the action plan for the prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment for the period 2009–2013.1 It decided that work should commence immediately on a follow-up plan for the period 2014–2019, and requested the Director-General to develop a draft action plan for the prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment for the period 2014–2019 in close consultation with Member States and international partners, for submission to the World Health Assembly through the Executive Board.

The following global action plan was drafted after consultations with Member States, international partners and organizations in the United Nations system.

For 2010, WHO estimated that globally 285 million people were visually impaired, of whom 39 million were blind. According to the data for 2010, 80% of visual impairment including blindness is avoidable. The two main causes of visual impairment in the world are uncorrected refractive errors (42%) and cataract (33%). Cost-effective interventions to reduce the burden of both conditions exist in all countries. Visual impairment is more frequent among older age groups. In 2010, 82% of those blind and 65% of those with moderate and severe blindness were older than 50 years of age. Poorer populations are more affected by visual impairment including blindness.

In recent resolutions the Health Assembly has highlighted the importance of eliminating avoidable blindness as a public health problem. In the latest on the subject, resolution WHA62.1 in 2009, it endorsed the action plan for the prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment in 2009. In 2012, a report noted by the Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly and a discussion paper described lessons learnt from implementing the action plan for 2009–2013. The results of these findings and the responses received to the discussion paper were important elements in the development of the content of the present global action plan.