ADDIS ABABA, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- Experts and policymakers on Tuesday urged African countries and pan African institutions to exert concerted efforts to address the needs of visually impaired people in Africa.
They made the call during the seventh Africa Forum on Visual Impairment, which is underway at the African Union (AU) headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa from October 7 to 11.
"There is now a huge awareness in our planet earth that there is a part of our population who have been left out of development," AU Commission Deputy Chairperson, Kwesi Quartey, told the forum.
This year's edition of the Africa Forum on Visual Impairment is being held under the theme "Achieving AU Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through Innovation, Access and Lifelong Learning."
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the African continent is home to an estimated 15.3 percent of the world's visually-impaired population, in which approximately 26.3 million people in Africa have a form of visual impairment, from which 20.4 million have low vision and 5.9 million are estimated to be blind.
According to the AU, some 47 out of 55 AU members have so far ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), with 23 member states having presented state reports on implementation to the UNCRPD Committee.
The Africa Forum on Visual Impairment, which started in 1996 as a global conference, serves as a platform for individuals and agencies to exchange ideas, share best practices and promote new assisting technologies in the field of visual impairment to improve the lives of persons with visual impairment in Africa.