Congratulations to IAPB on another successful Council of Members (CoM) meeting! For all of us in the global eye health community, the CoM is a pivotal opportunity to learn from leading experts through engaging plenaries and breakout sessions. To explore collaboration opportunities with partners, to share lessons learned and best practices with colleagues and to reflect on where we need to focus our efforts moving forward.
I would especially like to congratulate the IAPB Gender Equity Work Group and their launch of the Gender Equity toolkit that provides numerous resources to help deliver gender sensitive, gender responsive and gender transformative eye health programmes. This toolkit will be an invaluable resource for the eye health community as we work collectively to strengthen gender equality in our organizations. Access to global eye health resources and knowledge is one of the many benefits Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) experiences with IAPB membership.
As a Group A Member of IAPB, we appreciated the opportunity to host a breakout session at the CoM. This year, we organized a panel presentation and discussion on diabetic retinopathy service provision and care. The panel convened leading experts in diabetic retinopathy and discussed strategies for the implementation of integrated care and service for diabetes and eye health. This interactive discussion provided an opportunity to share challenges encountered by both patients and providers in diabetic retinopathy service provision.
Diabetic retinopathy continues to be a focus of service for Lions around the world. Lions are actively engaged in the prevention and management of diabetes, which is the first step in reducing the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Through SightFirst, Lions’ premier initiative to strengthen eye care systems in underserved communities, LCIF has funded diabetic retinopathy focused projects around the world. LCIF’s investment in this work has resulted in over 150,000 people with diabetes screened, over 25,000 treated for diabetic retinopathy and over 2,000 healthcare professionals trained. In addition, LCIF provides support to WHO for the TADDS Action Project which is the largest ever service assessment and development programme for people living with diabetes and diabetic retinopathy.
LCIF also supports public health research in diabetic retinopathy and other initiatives that evaluate and directly influence the operation of the SightFirst program. Four SightFirst Research grants of up to US$100,000 are awarded annually, and we recently announced Letters of Intent for the research grants are due by December 2, 2019.
Thank you, IAPB, for providing the global eye health community the opportunity to convene and discuss issues vital to the achievement of universal access to eye health.
Image on top: Panelists: Dr. Silvio Mariotti, Senior Medical Officer, WHO; Dr. Milka Mafwiri, Professor in Ophthalmology at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences; Dr. Simon Arunga, 2019 IAPB Eye Health Hero; Michelle Sylvanowicz, Global Advocacy Director for Ophthalmology at Bayer.