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Australia signs historic eyecare agreement

02/05/2018By Matthew Woodley • Staff Journalist
Australia and other Commonwealth member nations will work towards providing universal eyecare access, following an historic agreement at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting in London.

The commitment, made by the various heads of state at the biennial event, also includes a pledge to eliminate trachoma by 2020, a blinding disease that still affects some remote Indigenous communities in Australia. Prior to CHOGM, a group of 15 charities headlined by the Fred Hollows Foundation lobbied for the prevention of avoidable blindness and poor vision to be included on the agenda, and for each country to take one significant action towards eliminating blindness by 2020.


“Having good vision can transform lives, providing people with the chance to get an education, to work and to look after their families. We welcome the leadership shown by the Commonwealth Heads of Government in committing to vision for all.”
Ian Wishart, Fred Hollows Foundation CEO

Following the announcement, Fred Hollows CEO Mr Ian Wishart applauded the commitment from the leaders and described it as a landmark moment.

“Having good vision can transform lives, providing people with the chance to get an education, to work and to look after their families. We welcome the leadership shown by the Commonwealth Heads of Government in committing to vision for all,” he said.

Vision 2020 Australia was also part of the campaign and CEO Ms Carla Northam said she was thrilled the leaders had responded.

“This is a win for protecting sight across the Commonwealth and ensuring avoidable blindness remains on the global agenda,” she said.

“A Commonwealth free of avoidable blindness and poor vision, where everyone has access to affordable treatment and quality eyecare and where those with irreversible vision loss can reach their full potential, would transform the lives of millions of Australians and across the Commonwealth.”

The CHOGM meeting also acknowledged the trachoma prevention work of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Trust, which was established in 2011 to combat avoidable blindness across the Commonwealth and recently announced the establishment of a US$1 billion (AU$1.27 b) Vision Catalyst Fund to support the campaign’s universal eyecare goal.

According to Vision 2020, 14 million people were blind across the Commonwealth in 2015, while an additional 70 million had poor vision affecting their ability to read and perform simple tasks. In Australia, more than 450,000 people are blind or vision impaired, of which an estimated 90% is preventable or treatable.

Image Courtesy: Flickr | Ashraf Saleh



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