2018 in Review: IAPB Africa

Regional Programme Coordinator
Organisation: International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)

Girl gets her eyes checked/ Story: 2018 in Review: IAPB Africa

2018 has been a fantastic year at the IAPB Africa office and our region as a whole. We’ve undertaken multi-level advocacy activities, held important workshops, seen the publication of the WHO AFRO Primary Eye Care Training Manual, moved the WHO Regional Core Competencies for Eye Heath Workers in the Africa Region document to the final stage of editing, held webinars and more.

One of the major focus for the eye health sector has been the work around the development of the World Report on Vision, for which IAPB Africa supported an AFRO consultation meeting in Nairobi. The launch of the report is eagerly awaited by our members and the eye health sector as a whole, as it is being looked upon to shape the global agenda as we come to a close of the WHO Global Action Plan 2014-2019. It is also being looked upon to assist Member States in their efforts to reduce the burden of vision loss, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG target 3.8 on Universal Health Coverage. The report is due out in 2019 and will shape a lot of our work and that of our members and the countries we work in.

Human Resources for Eye Health (HReH)

A major focus at the IAPB office has been and continues to be prioritizing addressing the eye health workforce crisis.

IAPB Africa Advocacy Capacity Building WorkshopWe have undertaken many steps in this regards with meetings, workshops and the invaluable financial support and voluntary activities of our members. Carrying on our work towards HReH, we held our 4thadvocacy capacity building workshop in Nairobi this year – with a total of 18 countries now having been introduced to techniques of systematic and strategic advocacy.

Regional Advocacy

Validating the WHO Regional Core Competencies in IAPB Africa/Meeting in NairobiWe have sustained a productive relationship with WHO-Afro which provides normative guidance to member states.  This partnership with WHO has continued on most notably on the validation process of the WHO Afro Regional Core Competencies for the Eye Health Workforce and the development and publication of the Primary Eye Care Training Manual.

Core Competencies Framework

Earlier this year, IAPB Africa and WHO AFRO brought together eye health experts and country representatives from the region with the overall objective of reviewing a draft of the WHO Core Competencies for finalisation and validation.  The review and plenary exercises resulted in rich debate regarding the differentiation between the three cadres as well as the key content of the competences and their domains.  As a result of this, we now have a set of core competencies validated by the eye health experts and country representatives, which is being reviewed by the WHO.  The final document is scheduled to be released in English, French and Portuguese in early 2019.  Listen to a webinar on the core competencies here.

The progress on this is very important – to improve the quality of eye care provided by the eye health workforce  and for us — as it is a critical component of the IAPB Africa HRH strategy.

WHO AFRO Primary Eye Care Training Manual

The publication of the WHO AFRO Primary Eye Care Training Manual has been a key outcome of 2018.  The manual provides guidance in the design, implementation and evaluation of a course that aims to build and strengthen the capacity of health personnel to manage eye patients at primary-level health facilities in the region. Catch the webinar here.

Sub-Regional Advocacy

ECSA HC delegates July 2018We also held the first meeting of the ECSA-HCC expert committee to finalise the Terms of Reference, as well as developed recommendations raised in an earlier stakeholder meeting. The East, Central and Southern African Health Community (ECSA HC), with support of College of Ophthalmologists of East Central and Southern Africa and IAPB established the ECSA-HC expert committee on eye health in an effort to raise and sustain the eye health agenda at the regional and national level in the ECSA-HC member states.

Strengthening Training Institutions

IAPB is also overseeing a Seeing is Believing (SiB) Project: Building capacity for Low Vision Practitioners and Ophthalmic Nurses in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA).  We have developed a single project with 2 key components designed to strengthen the training of Low Vision Practitioners (LVPs) and Ophthalmic Nurses (ONs) in 5 countries in SSA. All the funding and activities are contracted to a number of member agencies (the African Council of Optometry, the Brien Holden Vision Institute, Operation Eyesight Universal, Sightsavers and the Cambridge Global Health Partnerships, formerly Addenbrookes Abroad) active in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Botswana and Tanzania.  Ophthalmic Nursing candidates from the three participating countries have started the Health Professionals Education MSc at AMREF International University in Nairobi. For the LV component, the final curriculum for the LV Master Trainers Programme has been designed and eligibility criteria devised.  Candidates for the course have been selected.  Listen to a webinar on the LV component here.

Facilitating Learning – Webinars

In 2018 IAPB Africa hosted four webinars on the WHO Core Competencies for the Eye Health Workforce in the Africa Region, the WHO Primary Eye Care Training Manual and Retinopathy of Prematurity in Africa.  We also presented on a SiB Webinar on the Low Vision component of the SiB project.  In each case presenters from WHO Afro presented on the documents themselves and experts presented on the impact that they would make at the country level.  Each of these Africa webinars broke the IAPB record for the number of registered participants, an achievement of which we are very proud.

As 2018 draws to an end, we hope to keep the momentum going in 2019.

Image on top: Girl gets her eyes checked in a clinic in South Sudan by Luca Catalano Gonzaga for #EyeCareEverywhere Photo Competition