In March 2015, the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that it intended to maintain its unique collaboration with the World Council of Optometry (WCO), as part of its Civil Society initiative. This prestigious status was first granted to WCO in 2006, and renewed in 2009, and again in 2012. In making its decision, the Board commended WCO’s continuing dedication in support of the work of WHO.
The announcement followed the submission of the WCO’s three year collaboration plan, which focuses on supporting the achievement of the 25% target of reduction of avoidable blindness and visual impairment established by the WHO Global Action Plan 2014 – 2019 and contributes to WCO’s vision of ‘a world where optometry makes high quality eye health and vision care accessible to all people’.
The collaboration plan covers the important areas of data collection, technical expertise, policy development, advocacy and supporting the development of sustainable optometric human resources through standardised optometric education. WCO President, Susan Cooper said: ‘This is a very significant opportunity for WCO to develop its partnership with the World Health Organisation and to make a focused contribution to the implementation of the Global Action Plan 2014 -2019 in the interests of patients gaining greater access to eye health and vision care.’
WCO is one of only 182 nongovernmental organisations worldwide to currently be in official relations with WHO, and is the first and only optometric organisation to have this designation.