VANCOUVER, BC June 26, 2020 Vancouver-based eye care charity, Seva Canada, co-hosted the launch of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) first World Report on Vision in Canada on June 26, 2020. The current cost of vision loss to Canadians is $19 billion/year and affects all elements of our economy. Costs are expected to rise to $30.3 billion/year by 2032 with the overall single largest indirect cost being lost productivity. Canada, a signatory to the WHO’s first resolution on Universal Eye Health, has not taken any significant action to address vision health. Seva Canada, along with the Canadian eye care community, called upon the Canadian government to take a leadership role to implement the recommendations of the World Health Organization’s World Report on Vision, launched by the Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Despite concerted action over the past 30 years, Canadian and health systems worldwide, face significant challenges in meeting current and projected eye care needs. Globally more than 2.2 billion people have vision impairment and of those, at least 1 billion have vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be treated. The burden of most eye conditions and vision impairment is not borne equally. It weighs more heavily on low- and middle-income countries, on rural communities, on older people, women, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations.

"The work being done for vision health is so critical. As someone with a significant visual impairment, I wish to offer my appreciation for the work you are all doing – both here in Canada and abroad.”  

 Carla Qualtrough Minister

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

With global demand for eye care set to triple by 2050 due to population growth, ageing and changes in lifestyle, recommended actions based on the Word Report on Vision hope to avoid a considerable challenge to Canadian and health systems worldwide.

"We know that poverty reduction and the overall health of populations rely on equitable access to eye care." - Penny Lyons, Seva Canada Executive Director

 “Seva Canada is reassured that the WHO is seeking to stimulate action to meet growing eye care needs in Canada and globally through an integrated people-centred approach. We know that poverty reduction and the overall health of populations rely on equitable access to eye care. Over the past 38 years, our award-winning development model has been creating sustainable eye care programs in low-income countries with local partners to reach marginalized populations most in need – women, children and people living in extreme poverty and isolation. Everything we do, from training to providing supplies to conducting research and funding surgery, glasses and medicine, is for one reason: to provide communities with access to high-quality care that will restore sight and prevent blindness, now and in the future. When you give people the power of sight, you also give access to education, employment and the foundation for a better life.” says Penny Lyons, Seva Canada Executive Director.

Seva Canada and the Canadian eye care community is advocating for the federal and provincial governments to provide universal access to government-funded eye services for Canadians of all ages; to eliminate barriers to access for medically necessary eye medications; eliminate drug shortages for critical eye medications; and to expand public infrastructure for telemedicine for vision care which can provide access to care amongst our rural and indigenous populations.

 “People who need eye care must be able to receive high-quality interventions without suffering financial hardship. It is time to make sure that as many people as possible in all countries can see as well as current health technologies and health systems allow.” says Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

 “People who need eye care must be able to receive high-quality interventions without suffering financial hardship. It is time to make sure that as many people as possible in all countries can see as well as current health technologies and health systems allow.” says Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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About Seva Canada: Seva Canada (seva.ca) is a Vancouver-based charitable organization that restores sight and prevents blindness in developing countries. Since 1982, Seva has given over 5 million people the power of sight through life-changing surgeries and provided eye care services including glasses and medicine to millions more.

Seva works with local partners to create sustainable eye care programs that achieve long-term change, are culturally sensitive and reach those most in need – women, children and people living in extreme poverty and isolation. 

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