Tuesday November 29, 2022

Collective efforts needed to reduce blindness

By Our Correspondent
October 07, 2022

Islamabad : Appreciating the government for its efforts in reducing the prevalence of blindness from seven per cent in 2004 to two per cent in 2022.

The recently launched National Survey of Blindness and Vision Impairment showed that avoidable blindness has more than halved in the last decade for the people over age 50 in Pakistan.

The ground-breaking ac­h­ie­vement comes as a result of years of concerted efforts to address the inequalities and challenges of eye care, supported by Sightsavers and other organisations. This has included improving access and quality of eye care services, particularly for marginalised groups and people with disabilities, and enhancing eye health infrastructure, service delivery, and human resources. Sightsavers is calling on government, organisations, donors, and communities to ensure eye health continues to be prioritised.

Prevalence of blindness in Pakistan has reduced, but the number of people in need of eye care could still spiral due to population growth, ageing, urbanisation, and lifestyle changes. The recent devastating floods will also have an impact, increasing the potential for eye infections and disrupting health services infrastructure, said Munazza Gillani, Country Director Pakistan at Sightsavers.

The eye health crisis is a global problem, not just a regional one, and it is estimated that, without concerted action, the number of people who are blind across the world could triple by 2050. Good eye health has a ripple effect on society, improving education, wellbeing, economics, and health outcomes.

The Pakistan government and other organisations have shown commitment to reducing the burden of vision impairment, but we cannot afford to be complacent and must continue to build on recent successes.

The eye health crisis is not inevitable; we can stop it if we come together to act now. By increasing the attention eye care is given, recognising how integral it is to every facet of life, and focusing on gender and disability inclusion, we will reduce inequality and help achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Munazza continues, The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals mention leaving no one behind, but there are still many people in that position. If we are to tackle the eye health burden in Pakistan, continued cross-sector collaboration, well-resourced interventions, funding, and commitments are needed to integrate inclusive eye health into wider health, education, employment, and development systems.