An eye health resolution at the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community Health Ministers Conference

Regional Programme Coordinator
Organisation: International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)
Patients sitting on a bench waiting for an eye test

Part of another queue/ Photo courtesy: Graham Coates

The East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community 69th Health Ministers Conference was held in, Lusaka, Zambia from 19th to 21st February 2020. The Conference was attended by Honourable Ministers, Heads of Delegation and senior officials from ECSA Health Community Member States, partner organisations, research institutions, civil society organisations and other key stakeholders. The theme was : “Innovation and Accountability in Health Towards Achieving Universal Health Coverage.

The ECSA-HC is an inter-governmental health organization that fosters and promotes regional cooperation in health among member states. Member states of the ECSA Health Community are Eswatini, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  In 2017, the ECSA-HC, with support of College of Ophthalmologists of East Central and Southern Africa (COECSA) and IAPB established the ECSA-HC expert committee on eye health in an effort to raise and sustain the eye health agenda high at regional and national level in the ECSA-HC member states.  The committee followed the ECSA HC processes during the subsequent years which entailed the development of specific recommendations for resolutions on eye health care in the region.  The culmination of these efforts was submitted to at 69th Health Ministers Conference.

Deliberations at the Conference proceeded under the following sub themes:

  • Equity and Access to Eye Health in the ECSA region
  • Opportunities for achieving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Global Health Targets
  • Efforts to Improve Adolescent and Young People’s Health
  • Innovative Approaches towards achieving Food Safety and Improving Quality of Life
  • Prioritizing Challenges of Substance Use and Mental Health Challenges in ECSA region
  • Tackling Emerging and Re-emerging Health Threats: A regional One Health Approach to Managing Recurrent Outbreaks

At the end of the Health Minister’s Conference, the Ministers considered and passed resolutions which included ECSA/HMC69/R1: Equity and Access to Eye Health in the ECSA region.  This resolution urges Member States to:

  1. Implement integrated approaches for prevention, control and management of eye health conditions at all levels, with emphasis on primary health care;
  2. Increase access to eye health services at all levels, by investing in and ensuring equitable distribution of Human Resources for Eye Health (HREH) and promote inclusion of eye health agenda at national, regional and international level; and
  3. Promote generation and use of evidence in policy and practice to improve eye health.

Additionally, the resolution directs the ECSA HC Secretariat to:

  1. Support the member states to implement this resolution; and
  2. Generate and disseminate evidence on eye health care in the region

We urge those members operating in the ECSA Member states to highlight this commitment made by the Ministry of Health in your respective countries when advocating for the strengthening of eye health.

We take this opportunity to express our utmost appreciation the ECSA HC secretariat, under the able leadership of Prof Yoswa Dambisya for the support and guidance on taking eye health to the HMC forum.  Also, we acknowledge the following IAPB members who provided the financial and technical support which enabled the ECSA-HC expert committee on eye health to reach this outcome: Sightsavers, Orbis, Light for the World, Charity Vision, The Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted, The Fred Hollows Foundation, Brien Holden Vision Institute, Operation Eyesight and Vision Aid Overseas.

IAPB will continue to work with our partners in the ECSA-HC expert committee on eye health with its remit to raise and sustain the eye health agenda high at regional and national level in the ECSA-HC member states.

Use these documents to support your advocacy efforts and implementation around the recommendations of ECSA HC Resolution ECSA/HMC69/R1
Recommendations Supporting documents
Implement integrated approaches for prevention, control and management of eye health conditions at all levels, with emphasis on primary health care WHO AFRO Primary Eye Care Training Manual
Increase access to eye health services at all levels, by investing in and ensuring equitable distribution of Human Resources for Eye Health (HREH) and promote inclusion of eye health agenda at national, regional and international level Core competencies for the Eye Health Workforce in the WHO African region
Promote generation and use of evidence in policy and practice to improve eye health WHO AFRO Catalogue of key eye health indicators in the African Region

Image on top: Part of another queue/ Photo courtesy: Graham Coates