On World Health Day 2018, April 7th, the World Health Organization marks its 70th anniversary. Over the past seven decades, WHO has spearheaded efforts to rid the world of diseases like smallpox and to fight against deadly habits like tobacco use.
In 2018 World Health Day is dedicated to one of WHO’s founding principles:
“The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, and political belief, economic or social condition.”
The tagline for this year’s World Health Day is “Universal Health Coverage: everyone, everywhere”.
Retina International supports the theme of equitable access. Innovation in the delivery of health care is developing at a pace and so too must the effort to make these improvements accessible to all, regardless of geography and means. For those affected by inherited retinal disease (IRDs) and forms of age-related retinal disease this is also true.
An accurate and timely diagnosis is essential for those affected by retinal diseases be they rare, genetically inherited or age-related. Yet, still today many people face long delays in accessing ophthalmic services, even a simple acuity test can be out of reach in some regions of the world. Delays in receiving an all-important diagnosis and potential treatment and can result in a patient losing their sight unnecessarily. To Retina International and its 34 member organisations – this is unacceptable.
Globally, life expectancy has increased by 25 years since WHO was established in 1948 and this is an achievement we celebrate every day as we witness relatives and friends live active lives for longer. It is critical then that our aging population can avail of the best eye care, can access regular eye tests and should they need treatment that it be provided to them so that they can live fully and independently.
We live in an era where Inherited Retinal Diseases are now actionable however, significant delays in accessing genetic testing services prevents those affected from indentifyig their gene. This is a significant issue that can result in patients not receiving an appropriate intervention such as a care plan or treatment.
On World Health Day 2018, Retina International is asking all stakeholders in the retina community to call for universal access to diagnosis and treatment of retinal disease in their region. This, includes equitable access to eye examinations, genetic testing as well as appropriate treatment and rehabilitation services which can lead to healthy vision that lasts a lifetime.
For more information on AMD log onto http://retina-amd.org
For more information on genetic testing log onto http://www.retina-international.org/toolkit-redalert