Call to Action for Environmentally Sustainable Practices in the Eye Health Sector

Ingeborg Steinbach's picture

In celebration of #EarthDay2021, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) has declared a #ClimateEmergency and released a Call to Action for Environmentally Sustainable Practices in the Eye Health Sector and a Guide for Environmentally Sustainable Practices in the Eye Health Sector. The two key resources, produced by the IAPB Climate Action Working Group (CAWG), not only highlight the need for climate action within the eye health sector, but also show how the sector can mitigate its own climate impact.

Mitasha Yu and Imran Khan, Co-chairs of the CAWG said:
"On behalf of the group, we are pleased that the Call to Action and the Guide has been endorsed by IAPB. This endorsement shows the sight sector is committed and united to act on the climate emergency that is impacting access to critical, sight-saving eye health services."
“The CAWG will continue its efforts to bring awareness to the eye health sector and support stakeholders to take steps to become more environmentally sustainable.”

Globally, we are already seeing the devastating impacts of climate change on our environment and health, threatening to undo decades of progress in global health and exacerbating poverty and health inequality. Eye health is being affected too, through increases in trachoma infections, vitamin A deficiencies, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, allergic and dry eye diseases and adverse climate events disrupting eye health service delivery. While climate change will increase the challenges of global health and healthcare provision, the global healthcare sector including eye health services contribute with 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) to climate change.

The Call to Action for Environmentally Sustainable Practices in the Eye Health Sector recognizes the eye health sector’s contribution to climate change. It highlights opportunities for the sector to show leadership and accelerate efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by focusing on 10 key areas of action. These key areas include leadership, advocacy, sustainable procurement, facilities management, service delivery, education, research and collaboration. The accompanying Guide for Environmentally Sustainable Practices in the Eye Health Sector provides practical recommendations and resources to support organizations along this journey towards mitigating their own climate impacts.

The Centre for Sustainable  Healthcare has had the privilege to be a member of the IAPB CAWG for a few years. The Call to Action and Guide were commissioned by the Fred Hollows Foundation and co-produced by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare in partnership with IAPB CAWG. The development of the resources began with a 2-day workshop held during IAPB Council of Members Meeting in Dar es Salaam in 2019 and the outputs are the result of 18 months of stakeholder collaboration across the world.

Ingeborg Steinbach, Carbon Modelling Lead at the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare said:
“ We are thrilled that the Call to Action and Guide for Environmentally Sustainable Practices in the Eye Health Sector have been endorsed by the IAPB and are launched today. We hope that the resources will make it easy for eye health organisations to advocate for climate action and reduce their own climate impact. ”

The Call to Action and Guide for Environmentally Sustainable Practices in the Eye Health Sector can be accessed from the IAPB website, https://www.iapb.org/learn/work-groups/climate-action/

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