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2022 in Review – South-East Asia: Working towards achieving global targets

Published: 07.12.2022
Yuddha Sapkota South East Asia Regional Manager
Patient dancing with joy

2022, a year where we had the pleasure of once again convening as a group, putting our heads together on how we achieve the goals we have set ourselves – embedding the 2030 In Sight strategy, achieving the new WHO global indicators and making the UN Resolution on Vision a reality.

Here are my top highlights of the year:

Initiation of IAPB Sectoral Strategy 2030 In Sight and Integrated People centred eye care (IPEC) Implementation

  1. Regional Meeting

A high-level advocacy and planning meeting having representation from prominent eye health leaders, IAPB members, other organizations, and institutes, including World Health Organization and government ministries from the South-East Asia Region, was organized at the L V Prasad Eye Institute’s Banjara Hills campus in Hyderabad from 21-22nd July. Hosted by the L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) in collaboration with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) – South-East Asia (SEA), the regional meeting was called – 2030-IN SIGHT – Implementing Integrated People-centred Eye Care in South-East Asia. The meeting was attended by 71 in person and 32 virtual participants.

One of the core focus areas of the meeting was to discuss and deliberate on how eye health can be promoted as a development issue, implementation of the IAPB sectoral strategy 2030 Insight and embedding it in the Sustainable Development Goals agenda. There were focused discussions on how Integrated People-centred Eye Care (IPEC) services can be implemented and awareness and demand for eye health services can be increased. The meeting concluded with recommendations and suggestive action points for effective integration of eye health into mainstream health system along with development goals and a road map to achieve the targets set for 2030.

  1. WHO Regional Action Plan on IPEC implementation

IAPB along with LVPEI the WHO Collaborating Centre for Eye Health, supported WHO SEARO to develop Regional Action Plan for IPEC implementation in the region. The Plan is ready for publication and will be launched in High level WHO meeting soon.
The Plan has set Strategic Objectives for the Region

  • To provide Member States to improve access to eye care to meet UHC and SDG goals through an integrated manner
  • Achieve a 40-percentage point increase in effective coverage of refractive error and a 30-percentage point increase in effective coverage of cataract surgery
  • Ensure 80% of those people with diabetes are screened for retinopathy, and 80% of those identified with Sight Threatening Diabetic Retinopathy (STDR) are treated
  • To eliminate trachoma in the region by 2030
  • Address the existing lack of and maldistribution of Human resources for eye health 
  1. Support to evidence generation and publication in WHO eye health indicators

IAPB SEA along with members working the region have supported many countries to carry out RAAB and RESC survey in the past. We were directly involved in funding and provided technical support to carry out RAABs in Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Timor-Leste. The results of these have become crucial for the baseline information of WHO eye health UHC indicators for the countries. IAPB SEA also supported ICEH, London and WHO Geneva for its publication in The Lancet Global Health journal. IAPB SEA Regional Coordinator Yuddha Sapkota and Regional Chair Dr Rohit Khanna also contributed in these publications.

  1. New Eye Health Strategy in Nepal

Ministry of Health Nepal has formulated a new eye health strategy which includes objectives and actions of IAPB sectoral strategy 2030 insight. Nepal also included eCSC indicator in health sector Plan of 2023 – 2030.

  1. World Sight Day Celebration

World Sight Day Celebration again gained new heights in the region with awareness being raised on Love Your Eyes. All members working in the region including WHO SEARO and MoH of the region celebrated the day as eye health awareness campaign. The activities included – Walkathon with love your eyes glasses and banner, Message of Health Ministers, Webinars, Eye Screening, Interaction programme, panel discussion with experts in TV, several radio and TV spots broadcasting with celebrities, campaign in social media etc.

As 2022 ends, we can be proud of how momentum has picked up after the pause caused by COVID. I look forward to what 2023 holds in store and continue with our planning in the region.

Image on top: Patient dancing with joy/ Michael Amendolia