Developing eye health competencies – An update from IAPB Africa

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

There have been several key developments at IAPB Africa in recent years. We have been making significant progress in our Human Resources for Eye Health agenda, with a giant step forward being taken during the meetings held in May(which were followed by our annual review and planning meeting). This was a resolution finalized by nine African countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Lesotho and Swaziland), plus experts and technical advisors.

Some other key developments past and future include:

Harmonization of Ophthalmology Curricula in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)

In 2016, the six ophthalmology colleges in SSA met in Accra, convened by IAPB and the African Ophthalmology Council (AOC), where it was resolved “To work towards a harmonised curriculum for ophthalmology residents and for training sub-specialists in SSA by 2020’’.

In August 2017, representatives from IAPB, AOC and COECSA will participate in the 2nd meeting of the colleges of ophthalmology to take this issue forward.  The objectives of the meeting will be to:

  1. Sustain momentum towards a harmonised curriculum in Africa by 2020
  2. Make progress towards the further development of sub-specialties in Africa

The aim of the meeting will be to determine the currents state of harmonization and compliance in each of the linguistic sub regions. It will also aim to map the training of sub-specialties.

Validation of WHO Afro Regional Eye Health Competencies

The development and validation by WHO Afro of regional competencies for eye health workers is underway.  IAPB Africa is working with WHO Afro to hold a meeting of experts to discuss the first draft of regional eye health competencies.  Regional competencies for eye health workers are critical to help clarifying the delineation, skill-mix and harmonizing the training of eye health workforce in the African region to meet the needs of both Universal Health Coverage and SDGs.

WHO AFRO Primary Eye Care Training Manual

WHO-AFRO, with the support of IAPB Africa and Sightsavers, has developed, tested and approved a set of algorithms and a training package to guide countries and IAPB member agencies as they seek to strengthen Primary Eye care activities within existing eye health programmes and strategies by securing the inclusion of integrating PEC into Primary Health Care, as recommended by the Global Action Plan, 2014-2019.  The WHO PEC Training Manual is scheduled for release in 2017 and IAPB Africa will be working with member states and member agencies in Africa to implement these new tools in short training courses for PHC/front-line heath workers.