The development of human resources for eye health (HReH) has been consistently recognized as central to eye health service delivery in global initiatives, reports and resolutions on visual impairment over the past 20 years. Thanks to the work of the East Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA HC) Eye Health Expert Committee, in 2020 a Resolution on Eye Health was passed at the 69th ECSA HC Health Ministers Conference. This resolution aimed at ensuring equity and access to Eye Health in the ECSA region, urging member States to highlight this commitment in respective countries when advocating for the strengthening of eye health. It urged Member States to:
- Implement integrated approaches for prevention, control and management of eye health conditions at all levels, with emphasis on primary health care;
- Increase access to eye health services at all levels, by investing in and ensuring equitable distribution of HReH and promote inclusion of eye health agenda at national, regional and international level; and
- Promote generation and use of evidence in policy and practice to improve eye health.
In line with the recommendations of the resolution, IAPB Africa has partnered with the East central and Southern Africa College of Nursing (ECSACON) to improve the capacity for strengthening eye health in the region through the integration of Primary Eye Care into Primary Health Care in the region. By way of this partnership, ECSACON committed to integrate Primary Eye Care Training into their pre-service and in-service curricula across their 16 member states.
In November, as a first step, IAPB and ECSACON held a IAPB held a Primary Eye Care Master Trainers Workshop to train 27 Master Trainers from 12 countries. The trainees were nurses from the ECSACON who will, in turn, train trainers to cascade PEC training to nurses in their respective countries. This work was supported by IAPB and its members who will continue to work closely with Master Trainers to build PEC capacity in countries and improve increase access to eye health services at all healthcare levels. IAPB thanks Novartis, CBM, The Fred Hollows Foundation, Light for the World, Operation Eyesight Universal for supporting this activity.
Image on top: Making glasses/Marisa Martins Armada