IAPB has nominated eight countries, globally, in which to convene Systems leadership activities as we progress the implementation of 2030 In Sight. In the Western Pacific, this includes PNG and Laos. The purpose is not to deliver the same outcomes, or even the same processes in each country, but to use National Discovery Activities to deliver examples of real change within and beyond the sector.
Countries have been chosen for a mix of reasons – but all are stable, have significant eye health needs and have a proven track record of engagement from the IAPB members working at a national level. It also helps if there’s a supportive Ministry of Health. In the case of Laos, we have a small cohort of IAPB members who are interested in working more closely together. These include, CBM, Eye Care Foundation, the Fred Hollows Foundation, Sight For All and Singapore National Eye Centre (also present in Laos, but unable to attend the meeting is Japan Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness).
Working together, the group reviewed the National Strategy, the time period for which is almost half complete. The years of the strategy have certainly proven challenging, given the pandemic, and there is widespread recognition that more needs to be done to implement its goals. The group highlighted HR as the biggest issue facing the country and all agreed that as a group they could do more to support coordination and prevent duplication.
The Eye Care Working Group of Laos is made up of these committed members, together with IAPB – who agreed to chair a development process over the next few months in order to facilitate the necessary changes. It was agreed that a new Terms of Reference and a workplan was essential to position the members of the group with one voice – essential to take the required changes forward. In January, IAPB will convene a follow-up meeting to draft these foundational documents.
This may seem like a back-to-basics approach, but is in-fact a strong indication that change is possible when there is broad alignment between the major partners.