Globally, 32.4 million individuals are blind and 191 million have moderate or severe visual impairment (MSVI); 80 of cases of blindness and MSVI are avoidable. However, great efforts are needed to tackle blindness and MSVI, as eye care in most places is delivered in isolation from and without significant integration with general health sectors. Success stories, including control of vitamin A deficiency, onchocerciasis, and trachoma, showed that global partnerships, multisectoral collaboration, publicprivate partnerships, corporate philanthropy, support from nongovernmental organizationsboth local and internationaland governments are responsible for the success of these programs. Hence, the World Health Organization's universal eye health global action plan for 20142019 has a goal of reducing the public health problem of blindness and ensuring access to comprehensive eye care; the plan aims to integrate eye health into health systems, thus providing universal eye health coverage (UEHC). This article discusses the challenges faced by low- and middle-income countries in strengthening the six building blocks of the health system. It discusses how the health systems in these countries need to be geared toward tackling the issues of emerging noncommunicable eye diseases, existing infectious diseases, and the common causes of blindness and visual impairment, such as cataract and refractive error. It also discusses how some of the comprehensive eye care models in the developing world have addressed these challenges. Moving ahead, if we are to achieve UEHC, we need to develop robust, sustainable, good-quality, comprehensive eye care programs throughout the world, focusing on the areas of greatest need. We also need to develop public health approaches for more complex problems such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, childhood blindness, corneal blindness, and low vision. There is also a great need to train high-level human resources of all cadres in adequate numbers and quality. In addition to this, we need to exploit the benefits of modern technological innovations in information, communications, biomedical technology, and other domains to enhance quality of, access to, and equity in eye care.
Annual review of vision science – Annual Reviews
Published: Sep 15, 2017
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