Although significant progress has been made on physical, mental and social health aspects leading to an increase in birth life expectancy over the last 3 decades, there remains an increase in blindness and a prevalence of eye diseases in many communities and countries. This is unacceptable because of the significant development in eye health care services during the last decade and the availability of preventive and affordable opportunities.
To overcome this situation, the WHO continues to collaborate with its partners to fulfill Vision2020: an international initiative aiming to eliminate preventable blindness by the year 2020. Representatives of the Middle Eastern Region met up for a workshop held in the UAE, Dubai between February 14 - 16 at The Gloria Hotel. This event is hosted by the Noor Dubai Foundation (NDF) and Dubai Health Authority (DHA) in collaboration with the Eastern-Mediterranean Regional Office of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAAPB-EMR) and IMPACT.
The main objective of the workshop is the full integration of eye care in all health care service centres especially primary health care and health funds. The integration a great impact on health care systems and individuals benefiting from them.
"We have increasing evidence that the prevalence of eye disease is really high and that they can be addressed through an integrated primary health care approach", stated HE Dr. Hussein Al Gezairy , WHO regional director. He also added: "Many of the policy makers do not realize the benefit of integrating eye health in the Primary Health Care and Health Ssystems".
Blindness and Visual impairment represent a significant problem challenging development in many countries. It has been noted that the early detection of many eye diseases such as Cataract, Trachoma and Children's Blindness and their treatment within PHC systems could decrease the magnitude of this problem. Early detection can also improve care services and preventive opportunities.
According to updated WHO estimates, almost 37 Million individuals in the EMRO suffer from visual impairment due to eye diseases and other uncorrected refractive errors. Among those 37 Million, 5.3 suffer from blindness and 90% of them live in low income countries. It is a pity that 80% of global blindness cases occur despite the fact that they can be prevented and treated at affordable costs.
The WHO and partners in Vision2020 are stressing on the importance of working throughout the decade left to fulfill the objectives by the year 2020. The efforts put forth in Vision2020 are shared by many entities such as The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, IMPACT, Noor Dubai Foundation, SightSavers International, the Kuwait Fund for Patient Assistance, Lions Club International, CBM, and Rahmatollah Foundation.
All these parties are proud of the success thus far seen in Jordan in Pakistan, as surveys have shown a reduction in Blindness and eye disease cases, in addition to other successes in integrating eye care in all health systems. Measures are being taken to generalize this success all over the region.