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2021 in Review: IAPB Africa Highlights

Published: 23.11.2021
Simon Day IAPB Africa Programme Manager
Brothers Alpha and David with their new spectacles

2021 was once again a year of being resilient and adapting our plans. We’ve had a lot of good things happen in the sector this year: the WHO adoption of two new indicators to deliver IPEC and the first-ever UN Resolution on Vision. At IAPB we’ve released a new strategy, had a super successful World Sight Day and more.

In Africa, the top three highlights of 2021 are:

Launch of the first Toolkit for Glaucoma Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Toolkit for Glaucoma Management in Sub-Saharan Africa was co-developed by more than a dozen high level, renowned glaucoma experts and general ophthalmologists from the region. It builds on the important ICO Guidelines for Glaucoma Eye Care and counts with invaluable contributions from the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO), the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), the College of Ophthalmology for Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (COECSA), the Francophone African Ophthalmic Society (SAFO), the West African College of Surgeons (WACS), the African Glaucoma Consortium, the Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa Glaucoma and Ophthalmological Societies, as well as the scientific community and major international training institutions.

This unprecedented and dynamic toolkit, developed and owned by African eye care professionals and glaucoma specialists, is instrumental to guide ophthalmologists, glaucoma specialists and glaucoma care team members and programme planners to set up integrated glaucoma care services adapted to their very own context and to strengthen the health systems sustainably. Its development was made possible thanks to funding from Light for the World and the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung.

The World Report on Vision launch in Mozambique and Ghana

In January, the Government of Mozambique, through the Ministry of Health, in coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Light for the World, led the launch of the World Report on Vision with technical support from IAPB.  The outcomes of the launch were based on an analysis of the recommendations of the World Report on Vision and developed in relation to the Mozambican context. They included integrating eye care into universal health coverage, implementing Integrated, People Centered Eye Health within in Mozambican Health Systems and raising awareness on Eye Health in order to empower people and communities.

In Ghana, on World Sight Day the Ghana Health Service and other partners launched the World Vision Report. In addition, Operation Eyesight Universal and other partners, together with the office of the National Eye Care Coordinator, advocated for the inclusion of the optional sensory module in the WHO STEPwise approach to NCD surveillance which would support the attainment of the global eye care targets for 2030 per the resolution passed at the 74th World Health Assembly.

Advanced – Integrated People Centered Eye Care initiated in Ethiopia

The Fred Hollows Foundation’s Advancing Integrated People-Centred Eye Care (A-IPEC) project is a 3-year initiative to support operationalisation of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) IPEC framework in national health systems of at least two countries, Ethiopia and the Philippines.  The project aims to coordinate activities between global, regional and national WHO bodies, IAPB and national stakeholders to build local capacity; develop and implement relevant training materials; and ensure national eye health policy, plans and resourcing are effectively aligned with IPEC.  In June, the Ethiopia Federal Ministry of Health committed to implementing the WHO recommended “A-IPEC project with financial support of The Fred Hollows Foundation at a launch workshop held in Addis Ababa. The workshop shared information on tools including the Eye Care Service Assessment Tool methodology and went on to outline commitments and responsibilities of key actors. The workshop produced an implementation plan and Technical Working Group to drive it forward.

As we move towards 2022, there is a lot on the horizon, the implementation of our 2030 In Sight strategy, our in -person face-to-face hybrid event 2030 in Sight Live (2-3 March), and more work towards IPEC.

Image on top: Brothers Alpha and David with their new spectacles/ Graham Coates