IAPB’s Advocacy to Action (A2A) Regional Update Session for South-East Asia was held on May 4th, 2023, with the objective of providing updates on regional eye health policies and advocacy efforts. The session aimed to share experiences and insights on translating global and regional eye health resolutions into actionable initiatives at the national and local levels. Discussions focused on the implementation of Integrated People-Centered Eye Care (IPEC) and assessing progress towards the goals outlined in the IAPB sector strategy, “2030 In Sight.” The session highlighted achievements, challenges, and dedicated efforts to overcome obstacles in various countries, offering valuable guidance for advocacy worldwide.
During the session, Rohit Khanna highlighted the regional advocacy efforts, including the IAPB South-East Asia (SEA) regional meeting in 2022 and the endorsement of the Regional Action Plan on Integrated People-Centered Eye Care (IPEC) by the World Health Organization (WHO) in February 2023. These efforts demonstrated the commitment and progress in advancing eye health at both regional and national levels.
RD Thulsiraj stressed the urgent need for comprehensive and universal eye care services in the region, with 650 million people requiring such care. He emphasized the importance of integrated and people-centered eye care, along with the readiness to implement global resolutions into national eye health policies and plans. Activating both the demand and supply sides of eye health services through sectoral and non-sectoral advocacy efforts was seen as crucial for achieving the goals of IPEC.
Dr. Sailesh Kumar Mishra shared Nepal’s successful integration of eye care services into the government healthcare system. Nepal has incorporated eye health into its national health policy and developed a corresponding strategy aligned with WHO-IPEC and the IAPB sectoral strategy 2030 Insight. Dr. Mishra emphasized the significance of evidence-based advocacy and consolidated efforts for successful integration.
Dr. Dechen Wangmo highlighted Bhutan’s unique and integrated approach to eye care services. The country provides free eye care services to all its citizens, with primary care available at grassroots-level health centers and district hospitals, and tertiary care offered in various regions and the national referral hospital. Bhutan’s integrated approach includes a robust referral mechanism to ensure accessibility to eye care services. Challenges remain in deploying human resources to remote areas, providing specialty services in peripheral regions, and ensuring the long-term sustainability of free healthcare.
In summary, the Advocacy to Action (A2A) Regional Update Session served as a significant platform for the exchange of knowledge, updates, and experiences related to regional policies and advocacy efforts in the field of eye health. We look forward to a follow-up session in South-East Asia later in the year.
Please watch the full session here.