It has been 18 months since the World Health Organization (WHO) launched their first World Report on Vision. A lot has happened since then…
In August 2020, countries cemented their commitment to the World Report on Vision by adopting a World Health Assembly resolution. The resolution was adopted with overwhelming support and more than 40 countries as co-sponsors. The resolution requires all countries to make eye care an integral part of their journey towards universal health coverage and to implement Integrated People-Centred Eye Care.
In January this year, the WHO Executive Board, comprised of 34 countries, approved two global targets for eye heath focusing on the leading causes of vision impairment, cataract and refractive error. The proposed targets, applicable to all countries depending on their baseline, are a 30% increase in the effective coverage of cataract surgery and a 40% increase in the effective coverage of refractive error by 2030. These targets will now proceed to this year’s 74th World Health Assembly for adoption by all countries.
The global targets are vital for ensuring that the momentum built by the WHO’s World Report on Vision and the World Health Assembly resolution on integrated people-centred eye care (73.4), adopted last year, is not lost. It will provide a mechanism for us to hold governments to account on their commitment to implement the World Report on Vision.
So, what next?
The WHO has been very busy. They are in the process of developing a suite of technical guidance and tools to support governments and other stakeholders move forward and progress the World Report on Vision agenda at the national level. This includes:
Strategic Guidance on IPEC: A complimentary guide to the World Report on Vision which sets out key strategic goals, desired end points, policy and practice interventions, and the roles and responsibilities of different actors. Expected in April 2021.
Guide for Action: A comprehensive guide to assist governments through a phased process of situation assessment; strategic planning; development of monitoring and evaluation; and implementation of the strategic plan. This process utilizes health system strengthening practices with a focus on eye health. It will include an updated version of the Eye Care Assessment Tool (ECSAT); a strategic planning tool and implementation tool. Expected in July 2021
Package of Eye Care Interventions: A Resource containing evidence-based eye care interventions that can be used by countries to plan (i.e., which interventions to prioritize), budget and integrate eye care interventions at all service delivery platforms. Expected late 2021.
Global Targets and Menu of Indicators: A monitoring framework for eye care fully aligned to Universal Health Coverage. This includes:
- The adoption of global targets for 2030, focusing on the effective cataract surgical coverage (eCSC) and effective refractive error coverage (eREC) for 2030 at the 74th World Health Assembly 2021. Expected in May 2021
- Technical guidance and a tool to facilitate the collection data on the global indicators by Member States.
- A menu of 30-40 eye care indicators which countries can select to better monitor progress against national and sub-national priorities. Expected in July 2021.
mMyopia Toolkit: A handbook containing and evidence-based message library and technical guidance to support governments and other organizations to develop scale mHealth programmes for their citizens on the topic of myopia. Expected in August 2021
Eye Care Competency Framework (ECCF): A tool to provide a global standard of eye care competencies that will assist in workforce planning and development, informing education institutions in preparing workers for practice, and setting practice standards for employers, policy makers and regulatory bodies. Expected in April 2022
The action we can take now?
The success of this agenda depends on the extent the eye care sector embrace IPEC and advocates for its adoption. IAPB is in the process of developing a programme of activity to support and equip IAPB members to drive this change at a country level.
We had started to make great progress at the beginning of 2020 with a number of national World Report on Vision launches. This all came to a halt with Covid-19 but soon we will need to pick back up where we left off and start planning for a series national policy dialogues to ensure implementation.
In the meantime, we encourage any interested IAPB members to:
- Attend WHO and IAPB webinars on this topic, including IAPB’s Advocacy to Action series which aims to engage and support the eye health sector in working together to effectively advocate at global, regional and national levels.
- Begin discussing this agenda at Prevention of Blindness Committee meetings and share resources with stakeholders to start building a common understanding.
- Promote this agenda to national government stakeholders, and begin identifying opportunities to shape government strategies, plans and policies.
- Get in touch with your relevant IAPB Regional Chair or Coordinator about supporting a national policy dialogue/ national implementation process.
What resources can I use?
We have developed a document and a set of powerpoint slides which sets out the roadmap to Universal Health Coverage for eye health. It includes a lot of the information above as well as the rationale for an integrated people-centred approach to eye care and some key advocacy messages. Please download here.
Image: Maintaining Social Distance to enter Eye Care facility during COVID-19/Shamim Khan