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Improving eye health status in SEA Region

Published: 17.08.2021
Rohit Khanna IAPB South East Asia Regional Chair
LV Prasad Eye Institute
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I have recently had the honour of being elected as the Regional Chair of IAPB South-East Asia in the Board of Trustee elections.

According to IAPB, the responsibility of a Regional Chair includes:

  • Engagement with governments through IAPB members or, where requested by members, directly to drive implementation of global eye health policy and frameworks in the region.
  • Engagement with WHO regional and, where appropriate, country offices to advocate and implement IPEC at national level eye health plan and policy.
  • Engagement and facilitation of communication and support of and from IAPB members.

Amid COVID-19, all sectors including eye health service delivery has been severely affected. However, IAPB continues to work on global advocacy for eye health. The past two years have been great for the sector with the WHO World Report on Vision, new eye health indicators and the first-ever UN resolution on vision, all of which look at eye health services beyond the VISION 2020 period. We have additional information on evidences published by the Lancet Global Commission on Global Eye Health and the Vision Loss Expert Group — emphasizing the need to further accelerate global eye health services. There is an increasing realization that many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) goals are interrelated with eye health and it cannot be achieved without embedding good eye health services in overall development agenda.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, I am committed to work towards translating the WHO global eye health resolution and IAPB strategies into the national eye health service plans and programmes of each countries of the region. There is a greater need to focus on evidence generation and formulation of evidence-based national plans on eye health in line with WRV recommendations. We need to work hard on implementation of Integrated People Centred Eye care (IPEC) at the national level and establish monitoring mechanisms according to WHO Package of Eye Care Interventions (PEC),  have periodical assessments to monitor progress, and provide relevant guidance wherever necessary in achieving SDG and UHC goals and targets in eye health. We should also make sure that eye health plans are well resourced and prioritized and integrated with overall human development programmes and activities.  As per WHO and IAPB strategies for 2030, during my tenure as IAPB SEA Regional Chair my focus will remain guided in achieving the following outcomes in the region:

Key Outcomes:

  1. A regional commitment to implement the WRV recommendations to achieve UHC and achieve the eye care targets on IPEC implementation.
  2. All countries in the region to endorse WRV recommendations and incorporate them in their national eye health plan.
  3. Increased cooperation and communication between SEAR Governments and the eye health community to accelerate country-level action, with a particular focus on planning for national policy dialogues and the development of national strategic plans;
  4. IPEC implementation and monitoring framework according to WHO – PEC framework developed in all countries of the region
  5. Undertake situation analysis of all countries of SEA region using ECSAT II.
  6. Obtain baseline data on eCSC and eREC for all countries.