Twice as Many Women are Blind...

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The theme of World Sight Day 2009 (WSD09) is Gender & Eye Health - equal access to care, recognising that two-thirds of blind people worldwide are women and girls, and that in many places men have twice the access to eye care. The day of awareness is set to be marked by up to 300 events in over 50 countries.

the systematic approach to 'gender and blindness' can serve as a model to help other health areas to address gender inequity.

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) has published a report to mark World Sight Day, which examines the current situation, and highlights effective strategies which are successfully addressing gender inequity in eye health, particularly in developing countries.London, UK, 8th October 2009:

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) has published a report to mark World Sight Day, which examines the current situation, and highlights effective strategies which are successfully addressing gender inequity in eye health, particularly in developing countries.

IAPB is the partner of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the <http://www.VISION2020.org>VISION 2020: The Right to Sight global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness. Its member organisations include virtually all international eye care NGOs worldwide, whose projects and programmes make up the report's content.

The report cites compelling evidence that in most developing countries, women are less likely to receive eye care services than men, and that additionally, women comprise more than half of the elderly population, and the natural incidence of some blinding diseases (cataract and trachoma) is higher among women than men, which results in a situation where women account for nearly two-thirds of blind people worldwide.

According to the British Journal of Ophthalmology, "blindness and severe visual impairment from cataract could be reduced by around 11% in low- and middle-income countries if women were to receive cataract surgery at the same rate as men." The strategies described in the report are simple, achievable and it is hoped they will contribute significantly to reducing blindness in developing countries.

According to the report, which includes case studies, programme reports and statistics from around the world, "the systematic approach to 'gender and blindness' can serve as a model to help other health areas to address gender inequity."

Activities and events are planned around the world, including Washington, USA, Sydney, Australia, Prague, Czech Republic, Tehran, Iran, Delhi, India and Port Au Prince in Trinidad & Tobago. The event in Washington will be the first of its kind, as a coalition of USA-based non-profits collaborate in the name of the global initiative.

On 8th October, organisations around the world will plant a tree to mark WSD09, and photographs are being collected from around the world, to create an international photo montage. In 2008, an estimated 300 events were held, and reports were received from over 50 countries.

About VISION 2020: The Right to Sight

VISION 2020 is the global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness, a joint programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) with an international membership of NGOs, professional associations, eye care institutions and corporations.

  •     45million people worldwide are blind, and a further 269m are significantly vision impaired
  •     90% of blind people live in low-income countries
  •     recent research suggests up to 517m are severely affected by presbyopia (age related refractive error)

YET

  •     80% of blindness is avoidable - i.e. could be prevented, cured or treated
  •     sight restorations, and blindness prevention strategies, are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care
  •     The world's leading cause of blindness is cataract - yet it is curable by a simple, cost-effective operation

Images, case studies and electronic copies of the report and supporting materials are available from the IAPB communications team.

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