It is Official! CBM is a member of the WHO Global SPECS network

This image shows four individuals standing in front of a backdrop featuring the World Health Organization (WHO) logo. One of the individuals at the centre is holding a certificate that reads, "Certificate of Membership", awarded to the Christian Blind Mission (CBM). The people in the photo are dressed in formal attire and are smiling, indicating a celebratory moment for the recognition of CBM's membership to the WHO Global SPECS Network. This event highlights CBM's ongoing efforts and partnership in global health and disability inclusion.

CBM's Director of Inclusive Eye Health and Neglected Tropical Diseases, Babar Qureshi, and Joy Koech, Head of Programs for Inclusive Eye Health at CBM, were present with WHO officials at the formal launch of the WHO SPECS 2030 initiative in Geneva.

CBM has joined the WHO Global SPECS network to improve global eye health. The WHO SPECS 2030 initiative aims to enhance access to quality refractive error services worldwide through coordinated action and advocacy.

CBM has become a member of the WHO Global SPECS Network, marking a significant milestone in our commitment to global eye health. This membership, which runs from January 2024 to December 2026, allows CBM to connect, share knowledge, and learn from other stakeholders in the eye health sector.

As a member of the Network, CBM will play a role in enhancing the visibility of refractive error services at global, regional, national, and local levels while also assisting WHO in advocating for the strengthening of these services.

Dr Babar Qureshi, Director of the Inclusive Eye Health Initiative, and Joy Koech, Head of Programs for Inclusive Eye Health, represented CBM at the launch of the WHO SPECS 2030 initiative in Geneva, Switzerland. They were also instrumental in the inaugural meeting of the Global SPECS Network.

Commitment to reducing visual impairment

Joy Koech expressed pride in CBM's membership in the Global SPECS Network, emphasising that it aligns with our priority to reduce the prevalence of visual impairment in the countries we serve.

She stated, “Through the actions of WHO SPECS 2030, we aim to ensure that everyone in need of spectacles has access to timely, affordable, quality, and people-centred refractive error services. This directly resonates with CBM's mission to reduce visual impairment. We will work with other stakeholders to address uncorrected refractive errors.”

What is WHO SPECS 2030?

WHO SPECS 2030 is a new initiative by the World Health Organization aimed at helping countries achieve a 40% increase in the proportion of people with access to appropriate spectacles. The initiative envisions a world where everyone needing refractive error intervention can access quality, affordable, and people-centred services. It focuses on five strategic pillars as outlined in the acronym SPECS:

  1. Improved access to refractive Services
  2. Capacity building of Personnel to provide refractive services
  3. Enhanced population education on Eye care
  4. Reduction of the Cost of refractive services
  5. Strengthening Surveillance and research in the field

“For CBM, being a member of The Global SPECS Network provides an opportunity to connect, share knowledge, and learn from other stakeholders in the sector," said Joy Koech. "We will contribute to raising the profile of refractive error services and support WHO's efforts through advocacy.”

The network comprises thought leaders in eye health, including intergovernmental organisations, non-governmental organisations, and academic institutions. It will operate through three workstreams: awareness and demand generation, workforce development, and service delivery integration and product supply chain. CBM will focus on the workforce and service delivery workstreams, leveraging our strengths and expertise.

Addressing uncorrected refractive error

Uncorrected refractive error is the leading cause of global vision impairment. Only 36% of people with distance vision impairment due to refractive error have access to appropriate spectacles. More than 800 million people have near vision impairment (presbyopia), which can be corrected with reading glasses. In response, WHO Member States endorsed a global target in 2021 to increase adequate coverage of refractive error by 40% by 2030.

Leveraging CBM's experience to support the SPECS 2030 initiative

CBM will leverage its extensive experience in eye health to support the network's objectives by sharing our expertise and familiarity with regional, national, and local levels of service. This participation will enhance our influence in the eye care sector and contribute valuable insights to the network.

For more information, please visit SPECS 2030