VISION 2020 – The Right to Sight

VISION 2020 initiated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and launched jointly with the World Health Organization (WHO) is a global campaign to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020. They identified 5 major blinding disease groups and disorders as avoidable: cataract, refractive errors, endemic infectious diseases (trachoma, onchocerciasis), glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

The worldwide initiative also deals with low vision and childhood blindness. It sets targets for improving the numbers of ophthalmologists and ophthalmic paramedical personnel in 5-year intervals.

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The problem:

Ø  The United States averages 1 ophthalmologist for every 15,800 people, which is recognized as an adequate ratio. Europe’s numbers are much similar. Usually ophthalmic assistants double the number of ophthalmologists, while those certified equal the number of ophthalmologists.

Ø  The entire sub-Saharan portion of Africa averages only 1 ophthalmologist for each million of its population. There 80% of all blindness cases are attributed to cataracts. In Kenya there is 1 ophthalmologist for each ½ million people, with almost all ophthalmologists living in the urban areas. In Tanzania, the leading cause of blindness is corneal disease from trachoma. Malawi’s population of over 10 million has only 4 ophthalmologists. South Africa’s 40 million people have 270 ophthalmologists for a ratio of 1 for every 150,000.

Ø  In Latin America cataracts are responsible for 40-70% of the blindness. Haiti has a population of 8 million with 2 million living in the capital-there are 51 ophthalmologists with 38 of them in the capital and a total estimate of 100 ophthalmic allied health personnel. Peru has 800 ophthalmologists for its population of almost 27 million, a ratio of 1 for every 34,000. Brazil has 8,000 ophthalmologists for its 170 million people for a ratio of 1 for every 21,000.

Ø  South and South-East Asia: There are about 12,000 ophthalmologists in India for its 1 billion-plus population, resulting in a ratio of 1 ophthalmologist for every 90,000 people. Bangladesh has a population of 144 million and 626 ophthalmologists for a ratio of 1 ophthalmologist per 230,000 people and one ophthalmic nurse per three-quarter million people. 80% of blindness cases are due to cataracts.

Ø  Australia has a population of 20 million with about 609 ophthalmologists.


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