Sustainable Development goals

Orbis and the Global Goals

In September 2015, 193 countries adopted a set of ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all.

Each of the 17 Global Goals has specific targets to be achieved by 2030 – 169 targets in total. They apply to all countries and aim to ensure that no one is left behind in the process of sustainable development. 

To achieve the Global Goals, all countries, alongside charities, businesses, and communities, have a role to play. By working with governments, partners and supporters in the fight against avoidable blindness, Orbis is contributing to the sustainable development agenda to transform our world. 

How does access to quality eye health help to achieve the global goals?

The Global Goals are interconnected: improvements in one area – like health – both determines, and is determined by, progress in other areas.

By focusing on fighting avoidable blindness and restoring sight, our work has a ripple effect across the Global Goals. 

GOAL 1 - END POVERTY IN ALL ITS FORMS EVERYWHERE

We know that enabling access to quality eye care is an effective and cost-efficient path to reversing the cycle of poverty. Treating preventable eye conditions can enable whole families to regain their independence.

GOAL 3 - ENSURE HEALTHY LIVES AND PROMOTE WELL-BEING FOR ALL AT ALL AGES

The importance of eye health is implicit throughout Goal 3, on ensuring healthy lives. The target of achieving universal health coverage (UHC) - the principle that everyone can access the full range of essential health services they need, when and where they need, without financial hardship – must include eye health. 

GOAL 4 - ENSURE INCLUSIVE AND EQUITABLE QUALITY EDUCATION

A lack of education can result in avoidable blindness if someone is not able to access information about eye conditions and treatment. Suffering from avoidable blinding conditions can also result in a loss of education – both when children are visually impaired themselves, or when children, usually girls, are forced to leave school and take care of a blind family member. 

GOAL 5 - ACHIEVE GENDER EQUALITY AND EMPOWER ALL WOMEN AND GIRLS 

There is a gender gap in eye health – two thirds of the world’s visually impaired people are women and girls. Gender inequality also plays a significant role in access to treatment and care – women and girls face barriers to accessing services. They may have less financial control to pay for services, or they may be unable to travel to access treatment.

Fighting preventable blindness contributes to greater gender equality – enabling women and girls to access education, employment, and community life. 

GOAL 8 - PROMOTE SUSTAINED INCLUSIVE AND SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH

We know that the cost of blindness to economies is huge in terms of education, productivity, and income. However, for every $1 invested in eye health, there is, on average, a return on investment of $4 in economic gains and health savings.


There are further Global Goals that have impact on eye health. For example, preventable blindness and visual impairment can be related to a lack of sanitation and poor or inadequate water supply (Goal 6), and inequality (Goal 10). 

Do the Global Goals refer to eye health?

While there are no explicit mentions of eye health in any of the Global Goals, the importance of eye health is implicit throughout Goal 3, on ensuring healthy lives. 

Furthermore, Goal 3 mentions neglected tropical diseases as some of those targeted for elimination. At Orbis, we work to eliminate trachoma – the leading infectious cause of preventable blindness. 

Goal 3 also champions the recruitment, development and training of health workers in under-resourced countries. Through training, Orbis ensures that local eye health teams can better manage eye conditions, and improve their services. It is a long-term, sustainable approach.

While Orbis focuses on fighting preventable and treatable visual impairment, the Global Goals state that no one should be ‘left behind’. The Global Goals champion disability inclusion in the areas of education, employment, economic growth, and more. They set out a vision of a world where people who are visually impaired and blind do not experience stigma, discrimination, and marginalization. 

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