RestoringVision Named an Official Member of the World Health Organization’s Global SPECS Network

By Pelin Munis, Ph.D., CEO, RestoringVision

February has been an extraordinary month for our team as RestoringVision now serves as a member of the World Health Organization’s Global SPECS Network. When I look back on our progress and impact as an organization from our founding in 2003 to the present moment, I am extremely proud of how far we have come as a unified entity determined to solve the global vision crisis, and as a sector strengthened by the global prioritization of eye health at the level of the United Nations and WHO. 

In addition, I’m pleased to share that I was recently nominated and have joined the network’s Foundation Committee, which serves as an advisor to the Secretariat, the WHO. It is an honor and a privilege to serve in this capacity alongside seven sector colleagues who make up the Foundation Committee and whom I hold in high regard. During this two-year term, I hope to serve this duty well and to be a leading voice for millions of people who lack access to vision services and eyeglasses worldwide.   

The journey of our partnership with the WHO began in early 2023, when I participated in the World Health Organization’s Global Refractive Error Expert Consultation meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. This was a critical meeting that brought together key stakeholders including NGOs, philanthropic foundations and academic institutions, and the Vision and Eye Care Programme at the WHO to discuss and advance progress in achieving the ambitious target of a 40 percentage point increase in effective refractive error coverage. 

From then to now, RestoringVision’s position as a global advocate for the advancement of eye care has grown exponentially. As an inaugural member of the Global SPECS Network, our acceptance is an important recognition of our work and impact. When the official launch of the Global SPECS Network takes place this May in Geneva, Switzerland, I look forward to being at the table to contribute to the critical conversations which will take place to grow the momentum around this movement and community. 

What does this mean for you, RestoringVision’s partners and friends? It means a global unification of advocates who share the same vision – a world where everyone who needs glasses has them. It has taken us 20 years to get here as an organization. Now with the support of the WHO and the weight of their convening power to drive change, this means that even more momentum will build for our sector – and the millions of people we are helping to empower every year. 

The impact of this network will be immeasurable – and now is the time for each and every one of us to lean in, to be even more vocal than ever before, and to facilitate increased convening around the issue area because the time is so clearly now. This step for RestoringVision changes everything – and all that we have collectively worked towards for two decades is now being recognized at the level of the WHO – and thus will help us to help millions of more people every year as we increase our awareness and our funding. The WHO is ambitious and visionary – and as a result, the pathway to solving the global vision crisis is now possible. 

As a next step, we will elect two members of our team to represent RestoringVision – a primary and a secondary, including Mark Lorey, our VP of Global Programs and Impact, and Aminah Yoba, VP of Philanthropy. These two individuals will work closely with the Global SPECS Network and its members and I am confident about the representation and ideas that these talented individuals will bring to the table.  

As we work together in 2024 to reach 5.6 million people in need, we also look ahead as we forge a path to achieving the goals within our new and ambitious 3-year strategic plan. With over 800 million people worldwide who only need reading glasses to see clearly again, our goal is to scale our work to solve presbyopia – an age-related vision condition that does not discriminate. While we will reach over 5.6 million people this year, we ultimately aim to reach 10 million people per year within this timeframe, and tens of millions more thereafter. 

As an official member of the World Health Organization’s Global SPECS Network, our continued commitment to this cause of clear vision continues to unfold as we will reach more and more people every year while advocating for their access to clear sight. 

With global recognition of this worthy cause, let’s be agile, solve a global problem with a tangible solution – eyeglasses – and rid our world of this inequity that is only exacerbating more disparate inequities. Clear vision changes everything – and so will RestoringVision’s involvement in the WHO Global SPECS Network. 

Thank you for being a part of our vision for a future in which everyone who needs glasses has them.