Prevention of Blindness and Visual Impairment

Universal eye health: a global action plan 2014–2019

66th World Health Assembly endorsed Universal eye health: a global action plan 2014–2019

In May 2013 the 66th World Health Assembly endorsed Resolution WHA66.4 including the “Universal eye health: a global action plan 2014–2019”.

The global action plan aims to sustain and expand efforts by Member States, the Secretariat and international partners to further improve eye health.

The global action plan 2014–2019 is intended to serve as a roadmap to consolidate joint efforts aimed at working towards universal eye health in the world.

The vision of the global action plan is a world in which nobody is needlessly visually impaired, where those with unavoidable vision loss can achieve their full potential, and where there is universal access to comprehensive eye care services.

Proposed actions for Member States, international partners and the Secretariat are structured around three objectives:

  • Objective 1 addresses the need for generating evidence on the magnitude and causes of visual impairment and eye care services and using it to advocate greater political and financial commitment by Member States to eye health.
  • Objective 2 encourages the development and implementation of integrated national eye health policies, plans and programmes to enhance universal eye health with activities in line with WHO’s framework for action for strengthening health systems to improve health outcomes.
  • Objective 3 addresses multisectoral engagement and effective partnerships to strengthen eye health.

There are three core indicators to measure progress:

  • the prevalence and causes of visual impairment;
  • the number of eye care personnel; and
  • cataract surgery as a proxy indicator for the provision of eye care services.

Global target: => the reduction in prevalence of avoidable visual impairment by 25% by 2019 from the baseline of 2010.

It will provide an overall measure of the impact of the action plan. In meeting this target, the expectation is that the greatest gains will come through the reduction in the prevalence of avoidable visual impairment in that portion of the population representing those who are over the age of 50 years. Unoperated cataract and uncorrected refractive errors are the two principal causes of avoidable visual impairment, representing 75% of all visual impairment, and are more frequent among older age groups.

By 2019, it is estimated that 84% of all visual impairment will be among those aged 50 years or more.

Expanding comprehensive integrated eye care services that respond to the major causes of visual impairment, alongside the health improvement that can be expected to come from implementing wider development initiatives, will be an essential prerequisite for achieving the target.