One of the most striking aspects I’ve witnessed on my visits to projects with IAPB is how committed the eye health personnel are, in spite of often having to work in extremely difficult and overstretched conditions. Whether in Africa, Asia, or elsewhere, it is evident how crucial all members of the team are to the delivery of quality eye health services across all levels, primary to tertiary, and how important it is to have sufficient, relevant, well trained and well-motivated staff to do the job – whether that is to help people see, or to provide people who are irreversibly vision impaired or blind the assistive devices and/or support needed to be as independent as possible.
The Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) held an online consultation from September to November this year to develop a global strategy on human resources for health – as a means to tackle the global health workforce crisis. I prepared a submission with considerable support from the IAPB regions, including drawing from policy and position papers from IAPB Africa, where human resources for eye health is the main focus of work due to the sheer scale of the problem in the region.
- The Strategy must place emphasis on tackling the global health workforce crisis within strengthened equitable health systems and multisectoral integrated approaches, via significantly greater investment and more sustainable approaches to health financing.
- The Strategy must guarantee the adequate levels and distribution of well-trained personnel to tackle health comprehensively across diseases, taking account of national, sub-national and local health needs. This must include specialised personnel including personnel involved in delivering eye health at all levels.
- The Strategy should involve broadening the eye health recruitment pool, by developing flexible routes into the workforce, and generating more and better data for workforce planning.
- The Strategy must promote the inclusion of specialised health areas, including eye health, so that they become integral to Ministry of Health HRH plans.
- The Strategy should promote the participation of eye health (and other specialised health) stakeholders in design, delivery, and the monitoring of national health and HRH strategies and policies that include task-shifting, training, and retention efforts.
The push for UHC creates a major opportunity to radically improve health access and outcomes for all people everywhere, tackling the gross health inequalities that persist. In effect UHC accounts for the fact that all people have the right to the highest attainable physical and mental health, one of the fundamental rights enshrined within the United Nations bill of rights.
Further to make progress towards UHC will necessitate better governance, strengthened health systems, improved more sustainable approaches to health financing, essentially a solid basis to integrate comprehensive eye health and promote universal eye health, as called for in the Global Action Plan for Eye Health.
On October 9, Bayer colleagues worldwide came together to support World Sight Day (WSD) – an international day to promote awareness of avoidable blindness and its prevention – with various activities.
As we get ready for the World Sight Day Gala event in Mexico City tomorrow, here are a bunch of pre-meetings and interviews going on. These are pictures from the VISION 2020 Latin America meeting that will see almost all Latin American countries represented here. With Ecuador being declared Onchocerciasis free, among other achievements, and the preparations for the Global Action Plan, this region has a lot to plan for and celebrate!
- There are currently 39 million blind people world-wide
- 90% of them are living in economically deprived regions
- 80% of all blindness is preventable
- Medical eye care must be made accessible to everyone, everywhere!
A guest post from the Light for the World on a new New Eye Clinic To Serve 2 Million people in Mozambique. (Read the original post here)
A guest post from Joan McLeod-Omawale, ORBIS International: a window to the good work ORBIS has been doing over the years in the Latin American region.
I had the opportunity to participate in the 20th Anniversary Celebrations of our long-term partner, Regional Institute of Ophthalmology (IRO) in Trujillo, Peru on July 10-12. The IRO is a government institute and referral center in northern Peru that provides specialized ophthalmic services and is the second largest ophthalmology residency training institute in the country. IRO now has over 140 staff members in all departments including administration, statistics, biomedicine, ophthalmology, and nursing.
Orbis has partnered with IRO since 2002 in various capacity building programs. Orbis’s collaboration with IRO ranges from supporting the establishment of the first pediatric ophthalmology unit in Northern Peru to providing both in-country and external training opportunities for their eye care teams.
Throughout our partnership, all Orbis capacity building strategies have been used including the Flying Eye Hospital and our telehealth initiative Cybersight. All ophthalmologists, nurses, biomedical technicians, anesthesiologists, and the administrative staff have benefited from training in Peru, the U.S.A. and several Latin American countries. We have provided local hospital-based training programs as well as financial grants for equipment and supplies, research, and management improvement change processes to reduce avoidable blindness and promote eye health.
I was invited to present on Orbis’s and IRO’s 12-year relationship at the anniversary celebration, among several other presenters from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and the U.S. who led scientific courses on various topics. Special guests included former Orbis Flying Eye Hospital Staff Ophthalmologist and past IRO resident, Dra. Roxana Rivera, and FedEx fellow Dr. Patricia Chirinos, and leaders of the National University of Trujillo and private universities. We had the opportunity to experience social and cultural events, including choir and dance performances put on by the Universities in the evenings, and a media-publicized 4K run/walk in honor of IRO.
I am proud all of IRO’s accomplishments and Orbis’s 12-year participation in their success, and I look forward to the institution continuing to grow and improve eye health in northern Peru.
|Regional Plan - EMRO||Regional Plan- PAHO||Regional Plan - WPR|
After many months, the WHO Western's Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) has officially launched Towards Universal Eye Health: A Regional Action Plan for the Western Pacific (2014–2019).
The plan was developed through consultation with Member States, international partners and experts during 2013 and was endorsed by the Western Pacific Regional Committee Meeting in Manila last October. In a first for the Western Pacific, blindness featured on the Committee agenda and more than 16 delegations spoke on the importance of eye health during the Committee session.
The vision, goal and the main objectives of the Regional Action Plan are in line with "Universal Eye Health: A Global Action Plan 2014-2019" (also known as the GAP).
This Regional Action Plan provides a regional context, with specific activities based on the strengths and needs of countries of the Western Pacific Region. Generating evidence for advocacy, strengthening mid-level workers, integration with primary health care, tools to improve cataract outcomes, and new partnerships for diabetic eye disease are a few of the priorities listed.
Already, many countries in the Western Pacific Region are advanced in their work to implement and deliver on the Regional Action Plan, and the GAP as well. Last year, Vietnam drafted a national plan using very similar objectives. In Solomon Islands, the national plan was recently reviewed and stakeholders are preparing to draft a new one. China, Australia and the Philippines are planning national prevalence surveys to collect evidence, as outlined in the first objective.
IAPB supported the development of the Regional Action Plan. We work closely with Dr Andreas Mueller and others at WHO on a joint programme of support for blindness prevention in the Western Pacific Region, funded by the Australian Government.
Member states will be asked to report progress against the implementation of the Regional Action Plan during the Regional Committee Meeting in 2015. It is our hope that the Regional Action Plan will be a guide to help strengthen national eye care programmes, raise the profile of blindness prevention and support the development of national plans to improve eye health across the Western Pacific.
Regional Program Manager, IAPB Western Pacific
This is great news from Australia. The following post is an abridged version of Jennifer Gersbeck's full post on the Vision 2020 Australia website.
UPDATE: China and Philippines are also preparing national surveys of blindness, writes Damian Facciolo, IAPB Western Pacific
CEO, Vision 2020 Australia
IAPB was proud to participate in Seeing is Believing's 'Great City Race 2014' yesterday. A team comprising Susan Evans, Celene Leong and Robin Percy joined more than 2000 runners in the running challenge which takes place around the closed off streets of the City of London. Seeing is Believing is the official race beneficiary and all funds raised will be matched by the Standard Chartered Bank.
The weather was great, and the atmosphere was one of fun, energy and accomplishment. Kudos to all the runners!
Susan Evans (Project Officer, Seeing is Believing), Celene Leong (Finance Administrator) and Robin Percy (VISION 2020 Workshop Programme Manager) during the run.
— Great City Race (@GreatCityRace) July 10, 2014
- Main Conclusions from the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Process
- Aligning national, regional and global conversations
- Forging Partnerships: Building Alliances with other vulnerable groups, including women, children, youth, Aging and indigenous peoples
- Looking Ahead: a roadmap for advocacy to ensure inclusion of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development framework and concrete asks
- The need to push for inclusion of disability in the new development agenda and targets.
- The need for disaggregated data that includes disaggregation by disability; a quote that was frequently repeated: “if we are not counted then we don’t count”
- The importance of engaging with national governments to advocate for disability inclusion in the final version of the new development agenda.
- Maryanne Diamond - Chair WBU Right to Read Campaign and Immediate Past President WBU - Why we need a treaty, what it is and what it means for persons who are blind or partially sighted
- Senator Kerryann Ifill – Consultant/Facilitator Technology Services for the Blind/Visually Impaired, Barbados - What the treaty means for blind or partially sighted persons living in developing countries
- Martin Babu Mwesigwa - CRPD Committee Member - The linkage between the Marrakesh Treaty and the CRPD
- Geidy Lung - Senior Counsellor, WIPO Copyright Law Division - How the Marrakesh Treaty fits with other WIPO treaties and what WIPO is doing to have it ratified
- Ambassador Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota - Deputy Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations - The role of a champion member state in the development of the Marrakesh Treaty and the importance and urgency of member states ratifying it
- Scott C. LaBarre – Lead, North America Treaty Ratification Campaign - What the United States is doing to progress the ratification of the Treaty
This is the first in what will become a regular feature from Peter Ackland updating you on latest developments that are contributing to the implementation of the WHA resolution 66.4 “Universal Eye Health: A global action plan 2014 – 2019”.
Where better to start this new series than the very first action articulated in the Global Action Plan (GAP) – Action 1.1 “Undertake population based surveys on prevalence of visual impairment and its causes.”
I have just signed the ‘certificate of attendance’ for 11 people trained in the Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) methodology, at a Trainer of Trainers workshop funded by IAPB. At these sessions, people with some RAAB experience look in detail at the theory and methodology of the RAAB tool. Following the training, individuals then have to participate in a RAAB study in the field. During this study, their performance is assessed by an experienced RAAB accreditor and, assuming all is well, the individual becomes a “certified” RAAB trainer – i.e. someone whom we are confident can not only conduct a good quality survey but also support and train others.
This training follows similar workshops held when RAAB was first introduced some ten years ago and more recently in Latin America in December 2012 and in West Pacific in March 2014. There are now a total of 19 certified RAAB trainers and a further 29 people who have completed the theoretical training and will be certified as they engage in RAAB studies in the field.
Resource for IAPB Members
So this is one way IAPB Members could help – if you are planning a RAAB study please do inform ICEH, Hans Limburg, or IAPB so that we can see if one of the people awaiting certification can be involved in the study.
Another recent development is the RAAB repository, which Hans Limburg has developed with support from the Fred Hollows Foundation. Please go to www.RAABData.info and explore the site, I know Hans would welcome your feedback. This is a work-in-progress and data is still being uploaded, but you can find information on all the RAAB studies to date. The repository will be a great resource for epidemiologists, advocates and programme managers.
Over the past couple of years a DR module has been developed by ICEH that is an optional module to the standard RAAB v5 or v6 methodology.
Including this does add complexity, cost and time to a standard RAAB but with the enormous increase in diabetes globally, the need for data on diabetic retinopathy becomes ever more important. IAPB has recently secured funding from Bayer to add the DR module onto two RAAB studies in Mexico – we hope preliminary results will be available for the major World Sight Day event in Mexico that IAPB is planning – more news elsewhere.
Other Prevalence Studies
Of course, RAABs are not the only methodology that can be used for prevalence surveys. I was really pleased to hear recently about the plans to conduct prevalence studies in 10 provinces of China. ORBIS is putting a considerable sum into supporting this which is being conducted under the auspices of, and in close partnership, with the National Health and Family Planning Commission. The studies will start soon and give us a veritable goldmine of information about the prevalence and causes of blindness in the most populous country in the world.
Why is this important to the sector?
IAPB and IAPB Members are investing in this aspect of the GAP because apart from the valuable epidemiological data provided, we believe it can be a catalyst for change and increased investment in eye health.
An example of this was that recently I was able to enjoy a private dinner with Mr. Jun ZHOU - the Director-General in the Medical Administration Bureau, National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People's Republic of China. To get such an intimate and prolonged period with someone so senior in the government is a unique opportunity – we talked about the upcoming prevalence studies and the need to use the evidence generated from them to frame future government investment and policy in eye health. We also talked about the government’s million cataract campaign and the need to build on this to increase the national cataract surgical rate. Mr Zhou was highly engaged and talked of personally attending the prevalence survey results dissemination workshop and supporting potential IAPB meetings in China.
Commonwealth Health Partnerships 2014, the essential overview of health in the Commonwealth, has a great paper on Avoidable Blindness.
Put together by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust with significant inputs from IAPB, the article gives a great overview of the situation on the Commonwealth countries, IAPB and the Trust's efforts to address them and the impact that the Commonwealth can have on global prevalence of avoidable blindness. The full article is available on the Commonwealth Health website.
A must read.
- Convening regional workshops to promote implementation of the Global Action Plan in countries across regions.
- The development of an eye care services assessment tool by WHO and its subsequent roll out at regional and country level.
- The generation of evidence on the prevalence of visual impairment and its causes, through RAAB studies.
- Updating the eye medicines included in the essential medicines list.
Workshops to promote GAP in the IAPB regions
Workshops to support GAP delivery
- The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Trachoma Initiative, tackling blinding trachoma in Commonwealth countries in Africa and the Pacific, and in Australia;
- The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Diabetic Retinopathy Initiative in South Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific;
- The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Retinopathy of Prematurity Initiative in India;
- The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Fellowships, Research and Technology Initiative to strengthen eye care, including the creation of the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium, a group of respected eye health institutions from across the Commonwealth
The IAPB Board of Trustees met in Singapore on 28-29 March for their first meeting of 2014. The meeting began with the formal approval of new members (listed below) and appointment of new trustees.
Peter Ackland gave the CEO report, in which he highlighted the development of an infographic and short video to support advocacy for the Global Action Plan. He also talked about the proposals to the Qatari Government to fund pediatric eye care in South East Asia and trachoma elimination in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The theme and call to action for World Sight Day 2014, falling this year on 9 October, were also presented: the rolling theme of ‘Universal Eye Health’, in line with the focus of the new Global Action Plan, continued, with the call to action being ‘No more Avoidable Blindness’ – this would allow organisations to focus on disease areas relevant to them by customising the call to, for example, ‘No more Cataract’ or ‘No more Trachoma’.
A large part of the meeting was dedicated to discussing the ongoing membership and governance review. Richard Bennett, the consultant leading the review, reported on the results of the consultation in which members were asked about four different scenarios for IAPB’s membership and governance models. The responses pointed towards a desire for some degree of change, particularly to increase members’ engagement and ownership, and foster transparency of processes and decision-making. The board discussed at length a few key aspects such as the role of the board and its composition, ways to balance participation and engagement in governance with effective decision-making, the role of regional chairs and fee structures. Detailed feedback will soon be circulated to the members.
The dates for the 10th General Assembly (10GA) were also announced – the quadrennial key gathering for the eye health community will take place on 18-20 September 2016 in Durban, South Africa.
IAPB staff and board would like to thank the Singapore Eye Research Institute for hosting the meeting. Their work, support, contributions and warm welcome were instrumental to make this a successful, productive and enjoyable event.
(A more detailed version of the report is available here)
Welcome to our latest members:
- Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust,
- International Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Council,
- Shandong Shierming Eye Hospital,
- Africa Vision Research Institute,
- Charity Vision International,
- Instituto Mexicano de Oftalmologia,
- Prevention of Blindness Union
Alessandro Di Capua
Membership Manager, IAPB
- In 2010 there were nearly 100 million people fewer people who were blind or having severe or moderate visual impairment than would have been expected.
- Prevalence of blindness and visual impairment over the past twenty years – both globally and in every region – is declining. This is the most powerful evidence that the fight to eliminate avoidable blindness and vision impairment is being won
- The underlying rates of blindness in the low income countries is considerably greater than in high income countries
- The number of blind people in the world – 32 million. Those with moderate and severe visual impairment – 191 million. Total: 223.4 million