Impact On India With The UN General Assembly Resolution To Eye Care For All By 2030
The International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) has done a commendable act in championing the first United Nations General Assembly Resolution: Vision for Everyone – Accelerating Action to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
The resolution was unanimously adopted by all 193 countries of the United Nations on 23 July 2021. It is the first agreement designed to tackle preventable sight loss to be adopted at the United Nations and enshrines eye health as part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
What this means to us in India ?
Eye care becomes a centre of policy making for all Governments and more importantly cataracts and uncorrected Refractive errors becomes the centre stage of countries health care progress. There is lot to do in Uncorrected Refractive error in reaching out to all towns and villages in the country. Having said the urban poor is also something that needs to be addressed by having refractive corrections done and spectacles offered.
Awareness for eye care still remains relevant as people do not visit an eye doctor or an Optometrist/Optical stores to screen their eyes as a yearly check. Easier said than done . The opportunity cost for an poor eye sight is much larger than what all of us can visualise in terms of productivity loss . This is an area for us as nation to increase the productivity of the citizens and thereby contributing to the growth of the economy.
The challenges that the people in the metros and Tier 1 and 2 cities face today is not the access as there are many optical stores and eye hospitals to cater to refractive corrections in addition to omni channel, but the walk ins to the stand alone opticians which has become stagnant. This is where the awareness for more eye screening plays a role.
The accessibility which was an issue five years back is now created and awareness to go for regular eyecheck takes the centre stage. This can happen only with partnerships and working together for a common goal of creating eye care awareness and offering solutions at all price points. The business viability for an optical store still holds good provided clear segmentation of the market is done and not play one size fits all.
Each Optician has a role to play provided they understand their strength and weakness and work on the strengths to bring in efficiency in the business.
On the Optometry side, India has now the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Act 2021 in place gazetted on March 28 2021 – An Act to provide for regulation and maintenance of standards of education and services by allied and healthcare professionals, assessment of institutions, maintainence of Central and State Register and creation of a system to improve access….. and Ophthalmic Sciences Professional as a recognized category and the Healthcare professionals 1. Optometrists 2.Ophthalmic Assistant and 3 Vision Technicians are defined. This will facilitate the role of each of the professionals in working towards largely in uncorrected refractive errors in India.
To quote W. Aubrey Webson – Ambassador to the United Nations is so relevant
“An eye test for a child can be the difference between inclusion and or exclusion; A pair of prescription glasses, the difference between access to information and seeking a livelihood and not. Corrective eye treatment, the difference between improved sight and total loss of sight. The gift of sight for the 1.1 billion people living with preventable sight loss is within reach if we ensure world leaders deliver on this moment.