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close this bookFact sheet No 215: Global Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness - Reviewed February 2000 (WHO, 2000, 2 p.)
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View the documentGlobal Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness

Global Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness


Adequately trained human resources are the core component in the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of avoidable blindness. Through the primary health care approach, VISION 2020 will encourage the development of human resources for eye health at various levels of the health care system.

Emphasis will be placed on mid-level personnel, defined differently in different countries, who are the backbone of national programmes for the prevention of blindness. In this respect, Africa is recognized as the priority region with the greatest need for such personnel.

In sub-Saharan Africa, many countries have intensive training programmes for such mid-level personnel to provide them with cataract surgical skills. In Bamako (Mali) and Lilongwe (Malawi), for instance, training of "cataract surgeons" has been a major activity with very encouraging results. VISION 2020 will expand this experience to other countries.

In fact, cataract surgery is one of the most cost-effective of all health interventions. It is as cost-effective as immunization and can have a very significant and rapid impact in reducing the global burden of avoidable blindness.

At higher levels of the health care system, ophthalmologists are deployed to provide specialist care.

Human Resource Development

For mid-level personnel, VISION 2020 aims at achieving a ratio of 1:100 000 or even 1:50 000 popula-tion, by the year 2020, as compared to 1:400 000 in Africa and 1:200 000 in Asia today.

With regard to ophthalmologists, a ratio of 1:250 000 in Africa is envisaged from the present 1:500 000 level by the year 2020.

The corresponding level for Asia would be 1:50 000 by 2020 from the present level of 1:200 000.

Other categories of personnel to be trained under VISION 2020 include refractionists, managers for national/regional prevention of blindness programmes, as well as paediatric ophthalmologists and instrument maintenance technicians.

With advances in information and education technology, it is expected that training programmes in selected countries will use distance learning techniques.

For further information, journalists can contact:

WHO Press Spokesperson and Coordinator, Spokesperson's Office,

WHO HQ, Geneva, Switzerland / Tel +41 22 791 4458/2599 / Fax +41 22 791 4858 / e-Mail:

© WHO/OMS, 2000