Blindness is Not Inevitable – World Sight Day 2018

Posted on October 11th, 2018 by Paula Colaso under Blog

Today is World Sight Day – an awareness day dedicated to drawing attention to vision health issues. Maintaining vision function is a key aspect of healthy ageing as it can enable people to keep doing what they value as long as possible.  Older age is often associated with vision loss; however, many age-related and other eye conditions are preventable and treatable.

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) and diabetic macular edema are prime examples of preventable and treatable eye conditions. DR is the most feared complication associated with diabetes – however, when detected early, there are effective treatments available to preserve sight so that individuals can continue managing their diabetes and participating actively in society.   

Recent IFA Initiatives: DR Barometer European Advocacy Workshop

The recent DR Barometer European Advocacy Workshop (14-15 September 2018 in Milan, Italy) attracted world-class clinicians, educators and patient groups from twelve countries across Europe to discuss how to improve screening and diagnosis; treatment goals and recent advances in treatment; the impact of an ageing population associated with diabetes-related vision loss; the value of patient education and empowerment; achieving patient-centred care; and moving forward with a multi-disciplinary approach, for improved patient outcomes.

Three Communities of Practice (i.e. patient education and empowerment, guidelines and protocols and coordinate care) served as the foci for attendees to devise solutions that addressed real-life issues around diabetic retinopathy faced by patients and / or health care professionals. In a modified Dragons Den approach where ideas were ‘pitched’ and voted upon, nine key initiatives competed for the honour of the most impactful, realistic and scalable. Visit this link to view the plenary and pitch presentations.

Want to learn more about the DR Barometer Program?

For the first time ever, disciplines from across the health care community and civil society are at the one table agreeing on the problem and making an investment to transform words into collective action for the improvement of patient outcomes in diabetic-related eye complications. The IFA and its partners are committed to helping transform the winning initiatives into a real-life solution. A unified approach will deliver never before seen outcomes that can be implemented in real-life to enact change in policy and practice.

Join the DR Barometer Community of Practice today – a growing multidisciplinary network of thought leaders and organizations who are working together to address gaps in Patient Education and Empowerment, Guidelines and Protocols for Healthcare Professionals, and Coordinated Care.

World Sight Day: #EyeSeeYou Partner CCB is Raising the Importance of Eye Health

Posted on October 10th, 2018 by Paula Colaso under Blog

In honour of World Sight Day, the IFA welcomes guest blogger Ms Louise Gillis, National President, Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) and Eye See You partner.

The CCB is the largest membership-based organization of the blind in Canada, with over 84 chapters.  CCB offers a wide variety of services that are vital to the blind community.  The CCB is a Registered Charity, founded by blind war veterans and schools for the blind in 1944.  Our Board of Directors and President are all blind or partially-sighted.

The CCB is working to help those with vision loss become active members of the workforce through the development and promotion of a computer skills training program.  The Get Together with Technology program is a peer-driven initiative for blind/partially-sighted technology users.  CCB has also developed sports and recreational programs, creating a supportive environment promoting active living and healthy lifestyles.

CCB gives people living with vision loss a voice in their own affairs, through our Advocacy Committee, addressing concerns affecting our community.  Recently, our members were urged to participate in community consultations regarding a national Pharmacare program.  Concerns surrounding Greyhound bus service in Western Canada are being discussed.  We also advocate for the provision of printed materials in accessible formats.  CCB’s Membership Committee is working to attract new members, and the Bylaws Committee continues to work toward making required changes to comply with the Canadian Not-for-profit Corporations Act (CNCA).

At the national level, CCB is a key collaborator with the Biosimilar Working Group assisting diverse organizations, registered health charities, and health care advocacy coalitions dedicated to ensuring that good outcomes for patients are central to Canadian health policy, specifically with regard to biologic medication treatment.  These medications are used by many of our members, and is therefore in keeping with our mandate, ‘improving the quality of life for those who are blind, and the prevention of blindness.’  CCB members continue to work with other groups of, and for the blind to prevent blindness and to increase the awareness of our organization through meeting with government officials at all levels, participating in community organizations, letter-writing and more.

CCB promotes measures to conserve sight and create a close relationship with the sighted community. We recognize that vision loss has no boundaries with respect to gender, income, ethnicity, other disabilities or age, and that in many instances, is preventable and sometimes symptomatic of other health issues.  For the 21st century, CCB is committed to an interactive health approach for early detection to improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

As we approach 2019, we continue to raise awareness of the importance of eye health.  Many people, in Canada and around the world, do not realize the importance of regular eye exams or how the symptoms and side effects of other disease processes can cause vision loss.  The CCB, other blindness organizations, and seniors’ groups are working with the IFA’s Eye See You campaign to spread important eye health information in Canada and beyond.  In 2019, CCB will celebrate its 75th Anniversary.  Our members are considering ways to celebrate, demonstrating our ‘abilities’ within the blind and sighted communities alike.

Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions for #IDOP2018

Posted on October 1st, 2018 by Paula Colaso under Blog

A ‘champion’ is an individual that facilitates change – whether it’s organizational, institutional, or social – and is active throughout all the stages of change.  The role of champion involves taking on a position of influence by establishing direction, aligning resources, generating motivation and providing inspiration.  In the context of human rights, champions are the key to ensuring long-term engagement in advocacy and action towards better human rights for all.

International Day of Older Persons 2018

The 2018 theme of United Nations (UN) International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) is “Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions”.  Corresponding with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948, this year’s theme was chosen to promote the rights enshrined in the Declaration and reflect on progress and challenges in ensuring full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by older persons.

Recently, the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons published a report about the social exclusion of older persons and how it impacts their access to basic human rights.  With ageism being pervasive across all levels of society, social exclusion of older persons manifests across numerous areas of life and of policy – including housing, health, employment, social protection, and urban development.

For decades, civil society has played an important role in raising the profile of this issue within the UN system.  In fact, many of those who are champions for the human rights of older persons are ‘older’ themselves.  The focus of IDOP 2018 on raising the visibility of older people as active members of society who are leaders of change helps to challenge negative stereotypes and combat ageism.

The IFA’s Human Rights Champions

The IFA is proud to have UN representatives in New York, Vienna and Geneva who are fierce advocates for the promotion and protection of human rights for older persons globally:

The IFA’s UN reps are also leading the charge with the IDOP events this year:

Dr. Jacqueline Stark:

IDOP Organizing Committee and Speaker on ‘the Role of Language in the Context of Human Rights’, Vienna

Human rights are fundamental for all persons from all walks of life. However, they become even more  important for older persons who may be confronted with life-changing experiences, where help or care often become necessary. In the context of human rights, language is our connection to the world! Without it, life would be unthinkable. 


Mr. James O’Neal:

Chair, UNIDOP subcommittee, NGO Committee on Ageing New York, New York

Human Rights are issues of importance to all people, although both younger and older adults themselves tend to characterize older people as being invisible. Once a person reaches 50 years of age, they are often considered irrelevant, yet they can be in the most productive years of their lives.


Share your stories

Increase the visibility of older persons as champions of human rights by sharing stories on social media with the hashtags: #IDOP2018  #standup4humanrights  #olderHRchampions  #AgeingEqual

Learn more about the Ageing Equal campaign here.

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