In 2023, IAPB will be initiating a new Working Group focused on the provision of eye health services in humanitarian contexts – specifically in situations with chronically displaced populations and conflict or disaster related disruptions to health care infrastructure and services. The IAPB Humanitarian Response Working Group will provide leadership and advocacy for increased adoption and action on priority matters, including strengthening of health systems and technical guidance relating to the challenges of implementing programs and delivering quality eye health services in fluid and volatile operating environments.
The priority actions of the Humanitarian Response Working Group include:
- Building greater awareness, understanding, ownership, and networking around the importance of humanitarian eye health services through tools and technical guidance materials
- Addressing the evidence gap around the impact of eye health within humanitarian contexts
- Developing a broader alignment of cross-sector stakeholders and forging partnerships with key local, regional and international organizations and relief agencies
- Developing messaging that elevates the social and economic role of refugee/IDP eye health in progressing global health and the Sustainable Development Goals
- Engaging with key decision-makers to build inclusive national health system policies, plans and interventions that ensure the right to eye health for all displaced populations and the achievement of universal health coverage (UHC)
Deepening conflict, widespread hunger and major climate disasters has led to more than 1% of the world’s population being forcibly displaced (103 million), with four out of five residing in developing countries already lacking in resources and capacity. This is more than double the amount of people 10 years ago. Global health actors and humanitarian actors have developed health policies, guidelines, frameworks, and structures to improve delivery of health services in humanitarian crises. However, eye health service guidelines are not found in humanitarian relief policies. Similarly, complex emergency or disaster specific guidance are not found in ophthalmic literature.
It is critical the global eye health sector address the challenges of accommodating the demands for eye health services for displaced and shock-affected populations in unstable and low-resourced environments. In doing so, we will accelerate progress towards reducing inequalities within and among countries and fulfilling the central and transformative commitment of the 2030 Agenda to “leave no on behind.”
Effective leadership and guidance can only be derived if the Working Group includes representation that is geographically diverse and whose work spans from the field to the global policy level.
If your organization is interested in joining the new Humanitarian Response Working Group participating in these critical discussions, please send an email to Brooke Blanchard, IAPB’s Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager [email protected]
The Working Group will aim to hold its first meeting in Spring 2023.
Image on top: Girl with red headscarf looks out of a window/Md Harun Or Rashid