International, News

WHO calls for eyecare to be part of universal health coverage

The World Health Organization is calling on nations to adopt five key recommendations of its World report on vision, including making eyecare an integral part of universal health coverage.

The WHO’s new Word report on vision.

The international health body urged member states to implement integrated people-centred eyecare in health systems; promote high-quality research; monitor trends and evaluate progress; and raise awareness and engage and empower people and communities, as part of its recommendations.

A resolution passed on 6 February by the WHO emphasised the “disproportionate burden” that vision impairment and blindness places on underserved and vulnerable communities, noting that cataract and refractive error are the main sources of vision loss.

“The majority of the causes of vision impairment can be prevented or corrected through early detection and timely management,” the WHO executive board highlighted.

The resolution raised concerns about the increasing prevalence of myopia, “especially related to lifestyle factors in children, including intensive near vision activity and insufficient time spent outdoors”.

The WHO highlighted that the number of people living with blindness is projected to triple by 2050 due to a variety of factors, including ageing population, lifestyle and non-communicable diseases.

According to the report, the number of people estimated to have age-related macular degeneration will increase from 195 million in 2020 to 243 million in 2030, and glaucoma from 76 million in 2020 to 95 million in 2030.

The report estimated that an investment of US$14.3 billion ($21.8 b) is needed globally to treat existing unaddressed cases of refractive error and cataract.