Evidence driven change is key. This was the clear message from Professor Wang Ningli, Chair of the China National Committee for the Prevention of Blindness at this weekend’s ophthalmology summit in Shanghai. Beyond Asia Ophthalmology 2023 was organised by key IAPB member, Abbvie. As a global World Sight Day partner, Abbvie understand the importance of activating an audience and so IAPB was present to encourage greater advocacy around glaucoma and diabetic macular-edema. It was a meeting of 300 specialists – from China and beyond with speakers from Australia, Philippines, Singapore, Switzerland and Thailand.
Much of the discussion over the past few days centred on the patient experience. There was general agreement that the aims of Integrated People Centred Eye Care are essential to improving patient outcomes, especially with a view towards 2030 In Sight. But as Professor Wang Ningli highlighted, we need to be able to support our advocacy efforts to governments and policy makers with solid data. In her presentation, Professor Jie Shen, Vice-President of Research and Development also made the point that the patient experience was crucial to the efficacy of new technologies and treatments.
The role of technology and AI was explored in detail. Professor Chen from Beijing Medical University made the point that data and AI are here to stay. However, he cautioned, that we need to consider the real world environment and applicability of its use. This is particularly important when considering the patient perspective. In their 2021 survey, the IAPB DR working group found that whilst covid had turbo-charged the use of tele-ophthalmology, it wasn’t always so well received by patients.
At the close of the meeting a media briefing was held with outlets from across China, including such eminent mastheads as the People’s Daily. This was an opportunity to re-enforce the key messages of activation for the general public and to encourage greater awareness amongst policy makers and big business. In China patient advocacy groups aren’t common, so there is a greater responsibility on those of us who work in the sector to make the case on their behalf. But as Professor Wang Ningli reminded us – to do that effectively, we need to bring the data.