Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsPETER ACKLAND: Hello. I'm Peter Ackland, and I'm the chief executive of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, IAPB. And I want to thank you for listening to me at the beginning of your course, and enabling me to tell you the little about the work of IAPB, and how I hope it will help you both during your course and after you've completed the course. So IAPB was founded about 40 years ago, and our mission in the world is to try and eliminate avoidable blindness, and also make sure that people who have lost their sight receive the rights that they are entitled to.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 secondsWe're a membership organisation and currently we are about 140 members worldwide, all the big organisations, and professional bodies, and research institutions that are involved in eye health. So what does IAPB do? Mainly three things. The first thing is to raise awareness of the extent of avoidable blindness in the world. So we reckon there are 285 million people who are either blind or visually impaired. And the thing that really alarms us, and I hope you'll also feel passionate about this, is that 80% of that number is completely avoidable [correction] It could've been prevented or it could be treated, so an awful lot of people in the world completely, unnecessarily blind and visually impaired. The second area we do is advocacy.

Skip to 1 minute and 58 secondsSo in 1999, IAPB together with the World Health Organization launched the VISION 2020 Global Initiative. More recently in the May 2013 World Health Assembly, a resolution was passed, 66.4, which is called Universal Eye Health, a Global Action Plan 2013 to 2019. So this is the most important document in the World Vision impairment and blindness at the moment.

Skip to 2 minutes and 35 secondsThe second area that we focus on is information and knowledge. So if you go onto our website, IAPB, you'll find, I hope, an awful lot of resources that will help you, and I'll talk a little bit more about those in a minute. And the third thing we do is promote collaboration. With so many of our members working in different countries, it's important that we try and get them to work together to support you, and your governments, and others involved in eye health in your country. So those broadly are the three key areas of IAPB's work advocacy, information, and knowledge, and getting people to work together.

Skip to 3 minutes and 20 secondsI wanted to finish by just saying a bit about how maybe it can help you individually. Because a lot of what IAPB does is at the global level, so how can that benefit you in your country? Well the first thing is coming back to the Universal Eye Health Action Plan. This provides a blueprint really of what needs to be done in the future. And many countries have looked at that, and taken it, and developed their own action plans and priorities based on the content of that. So really this is an important document that you should be able to take to your ministries, show them, and get them to commit to providing more resources for eye health.

Skip to 4 minutes and 3 secondsEvery single government signed up to the action plan and they're therefore obligated and committed to doing something about it. In terms of resources, I've already mentioned the IAPB website. And if you go on there, you'll find, I hope, quite a lot of things that will be helpful. I just wanted to focus on two. The front page you'll find a whole series of interactive maps. And if you click on your country, you'll find what we know about your country in terms of eye health. So it will have prevalence information, it'll have causes of blindness and vision impairment data, it'll have it disaggregated by men, women, and types of vision impairment.

Skip to 4 minutes and 45 secondsSo hopefully this is an important resource that will give you access to data that may be helpful for you to persuade others to do more about the work we're involved in. Another example is the IAPB standard list, so this is a list of equipment and resources which we guarantee the quality of. And they're available to you if you're an IAPB member at preferential prices. So we've managed to agree with all the manufacturers that they should supply this basic and essential equipment at preferential prices to IAPB members. So these are the-- that's another example of something that we hope you'll find useful. There are many other guides, as well, and resources you can use.

Skip to 5 minutes and 36 secondsAnd also you'll find that IAPB can help you with networks. As I said before, there are many of our members working in many countries. So they're there to help you and support you. And if you come to us, we can give you the key people that you might be able to talk to, and who you can actually work together with to take forward better eye health. So those are just some of the things we do that will help you. I hope at the end of the course you'll feel impassioned and knowledgeable about how to help us all avoid the unnecessary scourge of blindness and vision impairment that doesn't need to happen. Thank you.

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and the Global Action Plan

In this step, Peter Ackland, CEO of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, discusses the work of the organisation as it leads attempts to eliminate avoidable blindness.

The IAPB’s goal for 2013-17 is to increase access to eye health, particularly for those in society who are most marginalised, and fulfil their right to sight. In order to achieve a target 25% reduction in the prevalence of avoidable visual impairment, the organisation will focus on three key strategic aims:

  • Advocacy: by way of changes to government policy, health systems, and resourcing decisions at global, regional, and national levels
  • Knowledge, Skills, and Cost Effectiveness: to enhance understanding of eye health and coverage of services
  • Resourcing the Strategy: to ensure that IAPB members are equipped and supported to meet its objectives effectively and efficiently.

In May 2013, the World Health Assembly approved and endorsed the draft resolution “Towards universal eye health: a global action plan 2014-2019”. This was a result of the IAPB’s advocacy work in months leading up to the Assembly and gives a blueprint of what really needs to be done in order to eliminate avoidable blindness. The overall target of that action plan is to reduce avoidable blindness by 25% during the lifetime of the plan. More information about the plan can be found on the World Health Organization’s website.

World Sight Day

World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. On WSD non-governmental organisations (NGOs), professional bodies, educational and research institutions, and major hospitals work together to raise public awareness about, and influence governments on, blindness and visual impairment as major international public health issues.

Have you taken part in any WSD activities? If so, why not share your stories and photos from your favourite WSD experiences. To share photos post them on social media using the hashtag #FLeyehealth.

Finally, did you spot this mistake in the video? Early on, Peter says “unavoidable” blindness when he means “avoidable!”

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This video is from the free online course:

Global Blindness: Planning and Managing Eye Care Services

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine