In December 2015, over 60 experts representing all the regions of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) gathered in Rome, Italy, for the WHO International Consensus Conference (WHO-ICC) to discuss vision rehabilitation services in national healthcare systems. Currently, there are no international standards of care for vision rehabilitation services. Former Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) President, JJKVC founder and Dutchess County NY BOCES faculty member John Kelly was invited to represent all three agencies and schools at the conference.
In 2013 WHO approved an action plan to reduce avoidable visual impairments by 25% by 2019. The organization has found that globally, 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured; the challenge is educating the public about eye health and improving access to rehabilitative services. The WHO-ICC was one of many efforts toward achieving the action plan’s goals. The meeting was hosted by the National Centre for Services and Research for the Prevention of Blindness and Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired in Rome, which is a WHO Collaborating Center for the Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired.
For four days, participants worked to develop minimum standards and indicators for vision rehabilitation worldwide. The meeting also included reports from each WHO region on the state of vision rehabilitation services in their member countries. The WHO regions are Africa, the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, South-East Asia and the Western Pacific.
“We assisted the WHO in drafting standards that will be used to provide governments world-wide a baseline expectation of care in the medical, rehabilitative and academic realm,” said Kelly. “My role was to help them understand the needs of children and young adults in areas such as functional vision assessment, literacy, braille and mobility. It was quite an honor to be selected.”
WHO-ICC Rome Italy 12-2015
John Kelly with Dr. Silvio Paolo Mariotti, senior medical officer, WHO, Prevention of Blindness and Deafness Office, Geneva Switzerland and Dr. Linda
Lawrence, pediatric ophthalmologist, International Council of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Ophthalmology
International Consensus Conference Participants
InterContinental ® Rome Ambasciatori Palace