Antigua and Barbuda leads global initiative on eye and vision health 

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On the penultimate day of the high-level week of the United Nations General Assembly, Antigua and Barbuda convened an influential gathering of leaders to discuss a major health issue affecting countries at every corner of the globe. 

The discussion on vision and eye health results from the need to address a fundamental global economic, social and development issue on which Antigua and Barbuda is seeking to show leadership. 

Held on the margins of the UN General Assembly, the High-Level Breakfast was also attended by Antigua and Barbuda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Walton Webson, a leading advocate on the world stage for the blind and visually impaired. 

In attendance and addressing the forum was Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne, who donned a pair of Love Your Eyes glasses to symbolise his support for available, accessible and affordable eye care for all. 

“The world faces many complex challenges. Climate change is an obvious example, and we must fight every day to address those challenges. However, some issues are straightforward and non-controversial. Healthy vision is one and it can be solved this decade,” Prime Minister Browne declared. 

“Eye health is more than a health issue; it’s a sustainable development issue. Improving access to eye health is achievable, practical and cross-cutting,” he further stated.  

And so the Breakfast meeting identified the crucial importance of global leadership in implementing the UN General Assembly Resolution Vision for Everyone. Therefore in attendance were other global leaders from as far away as Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal to Caribbean in the St. Kitts Prime Minister Terrance Drew. A number of supportive agencies at the United Nations and beyond are also lending their support to the effort. 

“Vision is much more than a health challenge. Improving eye health is critical to supporting efforts to build a more equitable, inclusive, sustainable and resilient future,” Prime Minister Dahal declared. 

Prime Minister Drew expressed gratitude to Antigua and Barbuda and to Prime Minister Browne for their leadership role in piloting such a crucial and inspirational initiative. 

“In founding the Friends of Vision group here at the UN, you, along with the governments of Bangladesh and Ireland have led the way as we work to ensure that vision is firmly placed within the SDG Agenda,” Drew added.

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