Emily Hodgetts Global Medical Coordinator The Fred Hollows Foundation
Dr Sarity Dodson Director and Evidence Director The Fred Hollows Foundation
Josiah Onyango CEO COECSA
Simon Day Africa Programme Manger IAPB
On the 26th of August, in Mombasa, Kenya, 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 was based on the findings of a scoping study conducted by the Fred Hollows Foundation, the International Centre for Eye Health (ICEH) and COECSA in 2022/23. This study involved a detailed investigation of the current state of HReH across several countries in the region, identification of key stakeholders, and gathering of ideas for improvement. The study identified several key cross cutting themes as core challenges, being equipment/ infrastructure, training, funding, management/ coordination and policy/ regulatory which formed the basis of discussion during the workshop.
The workshop provided an opportunity to present and discuss the results of the 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. See below some further details on the approach designed in collaboration with IAPB and COECSA leadership and key national eye health leaders.