Singapore National Eye Centre (hereinafter, SNEC) and Santen Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., (hereinafter, Santen) announced a strategic partnership to jointly develop and deploy internationally an enhance educational programme deploying a combined online and offline platform to address the shortage of trained healthcare professionals supply to contribute to development of the eye care ecosystem throughout the region. The first initiative under the partnership is the Ophthalmic Technician (OT) training programme in Singapore.
Blindness and visual impairment affects at least 2.2 billion people around the world, of whom at least 1.1 billion have a visual impairment that could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed. Although trained ophthalmic healthcare professionals would be fundamental for the access to better eye care services, the lack of educational capacity and opportunity limit the numbers of these important eye care providers.
The United Nations General Assembly recently adopted a new resolution to accelerate action improving access to better eye care services to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With this crucial global call for action to achieve equity in vision care, it is even more important to focus on developing efforts to improve eye care workforce capacity.
World Health Organization has encouraged taskshifting where specific tasks are moved, where appropriate, from highly qualified health workers to health workers with shorter training and fewer qualifications in order to make more efficient use of the available human resources for health. Previous case study indicates that taskshifting of transferrable eye care practice from Ophthalmologists to welltrained OT has been effective to enhance the hospital productivity.
The SNEC-Santen partnership aims to establish educational programmes in eye care, promote task shifting, and dramatically increase the number of future eye care professionals.Funding of the initiatives under this strategic partnership is supported by Santen, the SNEC VisionSave campaign and funding provided by a dollar for dollar matching by Tote Board and Singapore Government.
Prof Wong Tien Yin, Medical Director, SNEC and Deputy Group CEO (Research & Education), SingHealth said that SNECs online programme will benefit allied eye care professionals by providing them with appropriate training during the pandemic and beyond. We are continuously preparing a new generation eye care workforce to meet the evolving needs of a rapidly ageing population and the associated increased prevalence of eye disease not just in Singapore but also around the world. For participants, self paced learning can take place anytime and anywhere and continuous learning will enhance their skills so that they are better equipped to provide high quality eye care for patients. SNEC will also be extending the relevant programme internationally that enables allied eye care professionals around the world. We thank Santen and the Singapore Tote Board for their strong support, which has helped translate the proposed OT programme into reality.
We are pleased to announce our strategic partnership with SNEC, recognized as a center of excellence for ophthalmic education globally. As a specialized company dedicated to Ophthalmology, Santen strategically addresses social issues related to human eye health and accelerates development of the Eye Care Ecosystem. This strategic partnership will provide better eye care by accelerating the enhancement of eye care capacity through educating ophthalmic professionals”, said Shigeo Taniuchi, President and CEO of Santen. “As noted in our WORLD VISION, Santen believes that this strategic partnership contribute to “Happiness with Vision” for people around the world.”
Ms Joey Poh Shu Zhen, a graduate from our pilot programme said, “The interdisciplinary course not only allowed me to pursue knowledge within and even beyond my job scope, it provided an opportunity to have an overview of how various departments work together for the holistic management of every patient”.
Ms Jessie Koh Hui Xin, another graduate said, “Covid–19 pandemic generally slowed programme progression and certain measures such as converting our some lessons from face to face lectures to online lessons. We could smoothly adopt to the pandemic situation as this online–merged–offline education programme was available. All the students from my batch were also able to graduate successfully. This state–of–art education programme would be useful after the pandemic as well.”
It is expected that in a rapidly ageing society there will be increase in the number of patients with eye disease. To serve patients adequately in terms of quality and quantity, the enhancement of eye care capacity and productivity is one of the key long–term issues in most society. In addition, eye health in the society is essential to achieve SDGs. SNEC and Santen, through this strategic partnership, will jointly
contribute to better eye health throughout the region.
1. World Health Organization. World report on vision. 2019.
2. World Health Organization. Resolution A/66/11, Universal Eye Health: A Global Action Plan 2014–2019, WHO, Geneva,
3. United Nations. Resolution A/75/L.108
4. World Health Organization. Task shifting: rational redistribution of tasks among health workforce teams: global recommendations and guidelines. 2008.
5. Mary G. et.al. Eye Care Productivity and Access in the Veterans Affairs Health Care System. Military Medicine. 2017;