IAPB’s School Eye Health Work Group notes that school eye health services are far too often a neglected part of child health interventions – at the expense of students’ potential. The need to address how we effectively integrate eye health into new and established school health programmes is vital to combat the ever-increasing need for care.
Numerous NGOs, across the globe, have successfully established great school eye health programmes that are delivering eye care to thousands of children every year. The IAPB School Eye Health Work Group aims to learn from these successes and strategize how they can do more. They will find solutions to reach more children, raise a higher level of awareness, and educate children and their parents about the importance of eye health.
Given the high magnitude of vision impairment, especially due to uncorrected refractive errors, the School Eye Health Work Group will address the urgent need to develop effective, sustainable interventions.
Top 10 Opportunities and Challenges of the School Eye Health Work Group – as described by Hasan Minto, Director of Programmes, Brien Holden Vision Institute and Global Programme Director Our Children’s Vision Campaign:
1. Children in the poorest and most remote areas have the least access to eye care
2. Current efforts to address child eye health fall far short of the needs.
3. ‘Education for All’, in its fullest context, remains far from a practical reality or a priority
4. Children are going to face increased visual impairment as near vision activities dominate our lifestyle –with less time spent outdoors inducing myopia in many.
5. Eye care is now fashioned against a backdrop of universal health coverage; access and school eye health need to be developed in that context
6. Standardised approach to provision of care in a school setting
7. Significant evidence gaps in the knowledge ranging from prevalence to compliance studies
8. Joint advocacy with government and the supra governmental sector for integration of eye health into school health and allocation of resources
9. Scale up school health services in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and World Health Organizations’ Global Action Plan for eye health.
10. Multi-sectoral collaboration – to achieve more
The School Eye Health Work Group will be focussing on these 8 areas:
1. Establish Standards for School Eye Health services
2. Advocate for inclusion of School Eye Health into school health programmes
3. Disseminating information on effective programmes in an effort to support new programmes, and strengthen existing school health programmes
4. Support the training, mentoring and capacity building of focal persons in school health, particularly at national level
5. Maintain and update the School Eye Health section on the IAPB website
6. Develop and pilot a School Eye Health Reporting System and database
7. Communicate regional progress updates on School Eye Health programmes
8. Global Mapping of School Eye Health Services.
The group currently consists of members from Brien Holden Vision Institute, International Centre for Eye Health, Orbis International, Sightsavers, World Council of Optometry, Light for the World, EyeAlliance and Helen Keller International.
If you, or your organisation is interested in joining please contact [email protected]