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Community voices in advocacy

Community voices in advocacy

Date: Tuesday, 7th September 2021

Time: 10.30 to 12.30 BST

Inviting participation in advocacy and action integral to people centred eyecare. The workshop will discuss how to include community voices in advocacy effectively to implement Integrated People Centred Eyecare. The session will draw on the experiences from the sector and look to begin the conversation about how the sector can prioritise and develop the capability to put community voices at the centre of delivering eye care for everyone.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the session the participant will be able to:

  • Discuss the relevance of community voices in advocacy planning
  • Identify the different voices that need to be included while developing advocacy strategies
  • Discuss some effective engagement plans to listen and understand the audience


As places for the workshop are limited, you are required to RSVP to the email invite from us to confirm your space. Please note that spaces are allotted on first come first serve basis and joining instructions will be sent to you following receipt of RSVP as a separate email in advance of the workshop.


Michelle Sylvanowicz Director of Global Advocacy, Ophthalmology, Bayer

Michelle Sylvanowicz

Director of Global Advocacy, Ophthalmology, Bayer

Michelle began her career as the Advocacy Director with the Angiogenesis Foundation. After joining Bayer in 2013, and through her collaborative approach, key international organizations (International Federation on Ageing (IFA), the International Diabetes Federation, and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)) and the retinal specialist clinical community (Vision Academy (VA)) joined Bayer to determine meaningful opportunities for intervention in diabetic eye health, regardless of resource setting. Michelle pioneered a ground-breaking effort to examine the impact of diabetes and its associated debilitating eye disease complications, from the perspectives of people living with diabetes and the health professionals who care for them through the Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) Barometer Study.

Avril Daly Chief Executive Officer, Retina International

Avril Daly

Chief Executive Officer, Retina International

Avril Daly is CEO of the patient-led global umbrella organisation, Retina International. Avril has worked in health policy for rare and common eye disease since 2000 and was CEO of the Irish NGO, Fighting Blindness for eight years. She was Chairperson of Rare Disease Ireland from 2006-2019. In 2009 she was elected to the Board of Directors of Rare Disease Europe – EURORDIS and has been the organisations’ Vice-President since 2012. Avril has held board positions with the European Patient Forum, The European Platform for Patient Organisation Science and Industry (EPPOSI), the HRCI (formerly Medical Research Charities Group) in Ireland and IPPOSI, the Irish Platform for Patients Organisation Science and industry.

Ravindra Shakya - Regional Program Manager, SEVA Foundation

Ravindra Shakya

Regional Program Manager, SEVA Foundation

Ravindra Shakya is a development practitioner who has spent over 37 years of his work career in 9 different organizations. He primarily worked in Nepal, but also undertook 3 international assignments including Cambodia and Zimbabwe. He also served as an International Director for Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa. He has managed and led 3 different organizations as the Country Director which focused on youth, education, and health. Recognizing his service, the Government of Nepal felicitated him with the prestigious National Award in Social Development 2014. In his last organization – Restless Development, he was voted as the “Best Director 2016” and the “Global Values Champion 2013”.

Megan Webber

Megan Webber

Co Founder, Know the Glow Foundation

Megan Webber launched Know the Glow after her son, Benjamin, was diagnosed with Coats’ Disease in 2009. Knowing that most parents, like herself, don’t understand the risk factors associated with the Glow or the simple steps to take for their child’s eye health, she knew she had to take action. Together with the help of friends, Megan launched KnowTheGlow to prevent children from needlessly going blind and has helped guide KTG into a global awareness movement.

She has sat on the Advisory Board of The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and Co-Chaired BrightEyes, a volunteer organization dedicated to supporting the doctors and patients at CHLA, as well as participated for years on the Board of Las Madrinas, another Los Angeles based organization supporting Children’s Hospital.


Iris Van den Brande

Iris Van den Brande

Global Patient Partnership Chapter Lead – Ophthalmology, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd

Iris has a special interest in strategic patient community engagement with a focus on ophthalmology. Her mission is to do what patients need next, by creating mutual value as trusted partners for patient communities and ensure that initiatives of Roche are patient inclusive. She was Senior Global Patient Partnership Director – Personalized Healthcare – Ophthalmology at Roche prior to her current assignment.

Brandon Ah Tong

Mr Brandon Ah Tong

Head of Public Policy and Advocacy, The Fred Hollows Foundation

Brandon has 15 years’ experience working in various human rights-based policy and advocacy roles within the health, disability, and international development sectors. Previously the Director of Policy and Advocacy with national peak body Vision 2020 Australia, Brandon’s responsibilities spanned prevention and early intervention, Indigenous health, blindness and low vision services and development within the Asia Pacific region. Brandon currently leads on advancing global eye health policy at the World Health Organisation, United Nations and other multilateral platforms with the Australian based international development organisation, The Fred Hollows Foundation. He was recognised with a Victorian Government award in 2014 for his leadership in disability advocacy and holds a Bachelor of Social Science in Policy and Research.

Arun Kumar Gaali

Arun Kumar Gaali

Executive Director – Africa Operations, Appasamy Associates

Dr. Arun Kumar Gaali MS, FRCS(Glasgow) is an Ophthalmologist since 2001 based in India. He has presented numerous Scientific Papers in Indian & International Ophthalmology Conferences and also won a few Best Paper & Video Awards. He has performed live surgeries at Ophthalmology Conferences and has also trained numerous Indian & International Ophthalmologists in Phacoemulsification Surgery for Cataract. In 2010 he moved to Appasamy Associates (an Ophthalmology manufacturing company in India) to head the business of the Company in the African Market. He has travelled to nearly 30 African Countries and has knowledge & experience in eye care delivery in these Countries.

Upcoming Workshops

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Date: Tuesday, 7th December 2021

Time: TBA

Workshop Highlights

Session 2: Evidence-Based Advocacy

Through a combination of presentations and group discussions, participants explored the latest and emerging evidence related to burden and impact of vision loss. The focus was on how to employ evidence most effectively when advocating for eye health.