Although our mission to prevent blindness and restore sight is most commonly linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through SDG #3: Good Health and Well-being, our work touches on a number of other SDGs. A reliable supply of quality eye health care is one of the most effective ways to bring communities out of poverty, increase life opportunities and improve productivity. Eye health care intersects with the achievement of many other goals:
#1: No Poverty: by preventing blindness and restoring sight to help people keep their jobs or return to work, eye health care access helps break the cycle of poverty.
#5: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: by training primarily women as community health workers, and by ensuring that women and girls receive equal access to eye health services, our programs give women the opportunity to expand their skills and work to support their families.
#6: Clean Water and Sanitation: by working with communities in Kenya and Zambia to drill boreholes to provide fresh water, and by educating communities to promote good hygiene, we help prevent bacterial infections that can cause blinding trachoma and digestive illnesses.
#17: Partnerships for the Goals: by establishing long-standing relationships with governments and Ministries of Health in the countries where we work, we work to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of our work.
The World Health Organization’s 2019 World Report on Vision (WRV) estimates that at least 2.2 billion people suffer from vision impairment or blindness. It also estimates that at least 1 billion of these people live with vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed. The report warns that this is likely to increase dramatically in the coming decades due to population growth, aging, urbanization, and behavioral and lifestyle changes.
This report was released before COVID-19 began to overwhelm health systems around the world. If no significant investments are made in eye health care at this time, an even larger proportion of the world’s population will suffer from blindness and vision impairment. This means greater loss of livelihood opportunities, dependency, hunger and malnutrition, and poverty.
By following the WRV’s recommendations and incorporating eye health care into Universal Health Coverage, countries will be taking the first step towards ensuring that vision impairment doesn’t hold their citizens back in a cycle of poverty. Solutions exist right now, and the sooner countries employ them, the better off their citizens will be.
In August 2020, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution to urge member countries to implement the recommendations of the WRV. This elevated eye health as a priority that must be integrated into national health systems. By working with our partner governments and local Ministries of Health to implement our community eye health model, we are moving one step closer to achieving good health and well-being and making eye health care accessible to entire communities.
Our work would not be possible without support from generous donors like you. Donate today to help us eliminate avoidable blindness. Not only will your gift help prevent blindness and restore sight for those in need, but you’ll also contribute to the achievement of the SDGs – For All the World To See!