Sightsavers continues to call upon global leaders to end the geographical inequity of eye health services.
Everyone, including remote and rural communities, women and girls, people with disabilities,should have access to the services they need.
Yet the availability of eye health services and products like glasses varies across and within countries.
They are often easily accessible in urban areas but less so in other places and for marginalised groups.Globally, 1.1 billion people have an untreated or preventable visual impairment
In Uganda, there were an estimated 3,103,429 people with vision loss in 2020 and only 1.2 ophthalmologists per million people
This is lower than the World Health Organization’s minimum recommendation of 4 ophthalmologists per million
Women account for more than half of blindness and visual impairment across the world Compared to people without disabilities, people with disabilities are also three times less likely to get the healthcare they need
Anthony Wani,The Country Director at Sightsavers comments,”Eye health should be equally available to everyone,no one should be disadvantaged because of where they live,their gender, health, or background.
But currently it is inaccessible for some sectors of society and even a luxury for those in urban areas.
”There is a needs to change.When we tackle these issues,children can learn, and adults can earn.Eye health equals a ripple effect on the lives of individuals, families, and communities, helping nations to thrive and reducing poverty and inequality.”
Governments are working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of United Nations (UN) goals which aim to reduce global poverty and inequality and protect the planet.
They include a target to achieve universal health coverage (UHC), ensuring everyone has access to health services.In 2021, global leaders also unanimously adopted the UN ‘Vision for Everyone’ resolution, which explicitly links eye health to all the SDGs.
To achieve the goals and resolution, inclusive eye health is essential.Unless it is recognised as a vital part of healthcare and development, efforts to achieve the SDGs and UHC will fail.
Indeed, the World Health Organization reported in September that “the world is off track to make significant progress towards universal health coverage” and that improvements to health services coverage have stagnated
The impact of inclusive eye health can be seen through stories such as Apolot Regina from Karamoja Uganda.Additionally,Sightsavers together with the Ministry of Health are also marking World Sight Day by having a screening session for staff at Moroto Regional Referral Hospital and Boda boda riders in Moroto town council
Anthony continues, “We are already working with the government and other partners to improve eye health services and we commend their efforts.
But more needs to be done to ensure eye health is represented in health planning, resourcing, and funding. Including people with disabilities,women, and other marginalised groups, community outreach, and a geographically spread workforce, will help reduce disparity of access.”