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2023 in Review: Africa – Regional Engagement

Published: 17.11.2023
Simon Day Africa Programme Manager
Children lining up to have their vision screened by Village HopeCore International/Gitonga Muthamaki

2023 was a year where we were able to carry out a ton of activities in the region that involved meeting with multiple members and stakeholders. I was able to be present not only in Singapore at our super successful 2030 IN SIGHT LIVE event where despite the distance a lot of people from the region attended, but also in Kenya, Ghana etc. 

It’s always great to meet people in-person to feel the pulse and talk about the importance of what we do. Here are our highlights:  

Regional launch of Eye care in Health systems: guide for action 

The WHO Eye care in health systems – guide for action was developed as a manual for health planners. The Guide outlines strategies and approaches proposed by WHO that provide practical, step-by-step support to Member States in the planning and implementation of integrated people-centred eye care (IPEC). 

In March, the WHO Regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO) hosted the Virtual Regional Launch of the Eye care in health systems: guide for action.  The program was divided into two parts, firstly a high-level advocacy segment with deliveries from WHO HQ and WHO AFRO as well as a message from the Ministry of Health of Zambia.  This was followed by a technical session on the implementation of IPEC with input from IAPB members. 

IAPB West/Central Africa Sub Regional Workshop 

In April, IAPB held workshop for the IAPB Central and West Africa region in Accra, Ghana, with an aim of unpacking the 2030 In Sight Strategy and to equip the participants with the tools for its implementation. Through a collaboration with local partner, the Ghana Red Cross Society, the workshop brought together 22 participants from and IAPB member organizations and ministries of health who participated in the workshop. 

The workshop harnessed the experience of the participants in implementing eye health programs to engage in objective discussions around strategic planning to implement 2030 In Sight resulting in plans for each pillar: Elevate; Integrate; Activate. 

The workshop objectives were to: 

  • Highlight how the 2030 In Sight strategy can be implemented at the regional and national level 
  • Showcase tools for delivering the strategy 
  • To collectively agree on the ambition for implementing the 2030 In Sight strategy. 

The participants unpacked the three pillars of the 2030 In Sight Strategy; Elevate, Integrate and Activate and were exposed to the various mechanisms and resources available to implement each. 

At the end of the session, participants made commitments towards implementing the 2030 In Sight Strategy. 

Human Resources for Eye Health Regional Workshop 

In August, COECSA, IAPB and The Fred Hollows Foundation facilitated a regional workshop to advance collective action towards addressing the Human Resources for Eye Health (HReH) challenges in East, Central & Southern Africa. The workshop marked an important opportunity to bring together a broad range of stakeholders interested in addressing the complex issue facing the region. The meeting brought together approximately 75 delegates from across 16 countries from the region and beyond with representatives from Ministries of Health, training institutions, INGOs, professional associations, and health facilities. 

The purpose of the workshop was to 1) develop a shared understanding of the key challenges relating to HReH across the region; 2) identify priorities for action; and 3) secure commitment from key actors for (and commence development of) a regional HReH strategic plan, funding plan, and national implementation plans. 

The workshop provided an opportunity to present and discuss the results of a scoping study, and to begin the development of a regional HReH strategy and funding plan. Given the complex and long term nature of the challenge of HReH in the region, taking the time to develop a shared understand the situation is important foundational work for substantive, sustainable change. 

Building on the success of the IAPB Africa Human Resources for Eye Health Strategic Plan 2014-2023, a new 10-year regional strategy will be developed to guide investment and effort. This strategy will be collaboratively developed, led by COECSA and IAPB, and will be informed by new and existing evidence relating to the key HReH challenges and opportunities and contributors to these. 

Building on the momentum gained during the workshop, the next steps for this work will be a collaborative, structured process to drive the development of the Regional HReH Strategic Plan over the coming months. The stakeholders attending the meeting agreed to collaborate on the development of a regional strategic plan and institutionalise this strategy in national level plans from 2024.  

As the year draws to a close to make sure you know what we do in 2024, if you aren’t already  subscribe to our quarterly Africa newsletter for more updates on the region. Just in case you have a story that maybe of interest to the region/membership send it to us here 

Image on top: Children lining up to have their vision screened by Village HopeCore International/Gitonga Muthamaki