IAPB Africa Editorial: An Exciting Time for Eye Health

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

An Exciting Time for Eye Health. Photo by Ciku Mathenge; 2013The development landscape is changing as donor budgets are being reduced and new actors appear on the scene to help to meet our ambitious development goals – the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs). This issue of the Newsletter draws our attention to a number of new initiatives which, if adopted and implemented by countries and member agencies, will support the strengthening of health systems in Africa which alone can deliver the comprehensive eye health services we want to see.

This is an exciting time for eye health. The World Health Organization (WHO) is preparing the World Report on Vision and we will all have an important role in advocating with governments to ensure they include comprehensive eye care in their Universal Health Coverage (UHC) schemes. In their new Strategic Response to the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), WHO has also suggested 6 key recommendations to combat the epidemic while a new Review of Reviews suggests that effective integration of Community Health Worker (CHW) programmes into health systems can bolster program sustainability and credibility.

But perhaps, most critically, WHO-Afro has also now published its Primary Eye Care Training Manual to provide 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 African Region.

At the same time, as we start thinking and planning for the next World Ophthalmology Congress, to be held in Sub-Saharan Africa for the first time in 2020, the African Ophthalmology Council (AOC) and ICO have convened the third in a series of summits to chart the way forward. IAPB believes that by working together we have far greater chances of achieving change than any one organisation can alone and the example of collaboration by 3 member agencies in Ghana is surely a pointer to the direction we must now travel in.

Photo credit: Ciku Mathenge; 2013