A majority of IAPB’s board marked World Sight Day 2013 with creative fundraising campaigns or important announcements on World Sight Day – just as it was in the early years of VISION 2020. The Regions also write about great participation - a little more than 40 eventsreported in Latin America; even more in South East Asia. Western Pacific saw hundreds of events – a majority with OGS. North America also saw numerous OGS and Lions clubs events, and so did Europe. The IAPB office alone has received close to 100 events in mail from across the world. The reports continue to come in, and the ‘final’ count is expected to be up by December. This year saw fantastic participation from corporates around the world and the WHO as well – a welcome development, again after many years. It is likely that there were at least 300 ‘unique’ events around the world around World Sight Day – many corporates and members have more than one event planned for World Sight Day in one location.
2013 was the year social media woke up in a big way to World Sight Day:
Twitter saw close to 10,000 mentions on World Sight Day.
We had close 1000 impressions on LinkedIn – a 10-fold increase to our regular stories
IAPB website page views peaked to 5000 visits on WSD alone.
WHO also mentioned that we topped all other health-related messages on their social pages – including World Mental Health Day, with which we shared 10 Oct (which had good resonance on SM in the past).
5500 people accessed the WSD13 promotional material and 2000 people visited the Suggested Activities page for ideas.
IAPB WSD13 Event: Bhutan
Bhutan officially celebrated World Sight Day for the first time in 2013. An array of dignitaries, including Crown princess HRH Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck as the chief guest attended the World Sight Day event in Thimpu, Bhutan and launched the WSD13 report in the presence of Bhutan’s Prime Minister, Health minister and other dignitaries.
The launch event in Bhutan was a great opportunity to draw attention to avoidable blindness in key countries in the South East Asia region and was the result of the vision and hard work of the IAPB Regional Chair for South East Asia, Dr Tara Prasad Das (from India) and the focal person for VISION 2020 in Bhutan, Dr Ngawang Tenzin.
The event saw presentations on the current state of eye health in Bhutan, and to discussions on the WHO Global Action Plan and its impact around the world. The delegates drew attention to the need for political commitment and people’s support and awareness in order to draw up and meet the milestones set out in the Action Plan. Bhutan is one of the few countries in the world that can ambitiously aim to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020. The speakers at the launch event underscored this fact and identified several areas of intervention that would make it possible.
Guests and participants at the launch event were invited to blindfold themselves for a short while to understand the impact of vision loss and what it would mean to them as individuals. After the event ended, the dignitaries got their eyes examined and encouraged members of the public to do the same. (Read more, here)
The WSD13 programme in Manila, Philippines, was planned in collaboration with the Department of Health (DOH). With Prof Richard Le Mesurier, IAPB Regional Chair for Western Pacific was various dignitaries from the DoH. The event, with ample media participation, was to be Philippines’ first national World Sight Day celebration.
Participants at the event discussed the national prevention of blindness programme and the work rendered by the DoH Eye Centre towards eliminating avoidable blindness in the country. Central to the presentations was the underscored need for an eye examination, World Sight Day 2013’s call to action, as an important step in addressing visual impairment.
This was followed by short presentations on the National Prevention of Blindness Programme, which brought out the need to equip and build capacity in key government hospitals around the country to improve access to the Filipino populace, particularly the economically disadvantaged. Prof Le Mesurier lauded the Eye Center’s good work and the DoH’s commitment to universal health coverage. He also chose to focus on the growing burden of diabetic retinopathy as a complication of diabetes that could be better managed through public health interventions.
The event ended plaques of appreciation for the government officials and with the launch of the WSD13 report and a well-attended press conference with participation from WHO WPR, DoH and IAPB.
IAPB WSD13 Event: Rwanda
Kigali, Rwanda saw some very colourful and popular WSD events this year. Organised by Dr Wanjiku Mathenge to spread awareness about eye health, acknowledge the government’s support in eye health activities and to draw attention to the new Global Action Plan, the day’s events were a success on all counts.
The day began with a procession through led by taxi-moto drivers (motorbike taxis) ending at the main bus park. People also walked in twos with one person blindfolded, raising a lot of curiosity among the onlookers!
At the bus park, a makeshift clinic was setup and over 250 public service drivers had their eyes examined. Dr Mathenge’s team issued eye drops mainly for dry eyes and allergic cconjunctivitis, while older drivers were given reading glasses.
Later that day, the Director General of Health launched the WSD13 Report and distributed both the English and French versions to those present. The occasion was also attended by the head of Non-Communicable Diseases at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre and the head of the Rwanda Ophthalmology Society.
Some of the biggest events and announcements on World Sight Day this year were made by IAPB’s Group A and corporate members. Indeed, what better opportunity to launch awareness, fund-raising or social media campaigns than the most visible date on the eye health calendar? The list includes a selection of the activities.
Alcon marked World Sight Day around the world with the campaign, “Enhancing Sight, Enhancing Lives”. The campaign will work elevate the importance of eye health, engage stakeholders in fight against preventable blindness and highlight Alcon’s Corporate Giving and Foundation efforts in these areas.
The Enhancing Sight, Enhancing lives campaign was marked with events in 25 countries where Alcon has a presence, including all Alcon locations in USA. In the UK, Alcon raised over GBP 2000 for Optometry Giving Sight, while in USA Alcon helped raise more than USD 500,000 for the WSD Challenge.
A number of material were produced to support the campaign, including factsheets, key messages, posters and banners, a donation toolkit and an effective social media tool kit as well, among other things.