Global Partnership Award For Kingdom

RIYADH: The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) is to present Saudi Arabia with a prestigious award in recognition of its role in supporting visual impairment control programs both regionally and globally.

The “Global Partnership Award” will be conferred — on behalf of the Kingdom — to Saudi Minister of Health Dr. Hamad Al-Manie at an IAPB general assembly meeting on Aug. 25 in Argentina.

“This is an outstanding achievement, which recognizes the Kingdom’s efforts in the field of blindness prevention under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah,” said Dr. Tawfik Khoja, director general of the GCC Health Ministers’ Council.

He added that Al-Manie would also be given the “Regional Achievement Award” for his role in promoting “Vision 2020: The Right to Sight” initiative on behalf of the World Health Organization’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO).

Saudi Arabia is being given both awards for the first time.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Health yesterday, Al-Manie will deliver a speech after receiving the award. The statement said that Al-Manie and Prince Abdul Aziz ibn Ahmed A. Al-Saud, who heads the IAPB’s EMRO chapter, have been playing pivotal roles for blindness prevention in the region.

“But, this is also the only region in the world where 86 percent of member governments and organizations have completed their plans in terms of goals set forth by global organizations for blindness prevention, including the IAPB,” said the Ministry of Health statement. The EMRO region alone consists of over 36 million visually impaired and 5.3 million blind people. There are over 37 million blind people in the world, a figure that increases by two million every year.

However, despite 75 percent cases of blindness being curable, many governments and global organizations, as well as individuals, do not render enough support to blindness prevention programs. The statement further said that the “Vision 2020” is a global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness and has been launched jointly by the World Health Organization and the IAPB with a number of NGOs, professional associations, eye care institutions and corporations.

The IAPB’s four-day general assembly in Buenos Aires will be an opportunity to network, share information, engage in scientific deliberations and be exposed to the diversity of experiences of those involved in blindness prevention.

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