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Published: 30.12.2015

WSD13 file photo from Philippines

Since 2013, IAPB has delivered a broad program of policy and coordination activities to improve eye health across developing countries of the Western Pacific. Working in partnership with WHO’s Western Pacific Regional Office and with funding from the Australian Government, the program included a 3-year work plan to increase national commitments for blindness prevention and improve coordination at national, sub-regional and regional levels.

As the funding and program wind down, it’s time to acknowledge and farewell those on the Western Pacific team who have led our program successes over the past few years.

In the Pacific Islands, Ana Cama and Atilesh Nand helped to establish and strengthen the Pacific Eye Care Society, support national planning across several countries and push forward trachoma elimination efforts in Fiji, Vanuatu, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands. Following surveys led by IAPB, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, the Fred Hollows Foundation and Pacific Island health ministries will work together to eliminate blinding trachoma in an exciting new project to start next year.

From Manila, Steve Alcantara has extended the reach of IAPB through parts of South-East Asia and islands in the Northern Pacific. Following work coordinated by Steve, new outreach programs have begun in the Federated States of Micronesia and in the Philippines, the National Committee for Sight Preservation has encouraged the Department of Health in the Philippines to take a strong lead with new resources, priority provinces designated and policies and regulations for service delivery and financing for eye health.

At the WHO in Manila, Dr Andreas Mueller has been a highly valued resource for health ministry officials across the region. The Regional Action Plan stands as a great legacy and will aid advocacy on eye health in the future. WHO has increased its engagement in eye health at a national and regional level with three major regional meetings and a training workshop on RAAB methodology held in Manila, as well as the development of tools and resources to aid planning.

In Melbourne, Komal Ram and Alecia Duke have given welcome support and direction to IAPB’s regional program and office for more than four years. Progress in countries across the region, as well as our regional website, are key achievements.

Thanks to a great team, we have demonstrated that much can be achieved by working together and that evidence, networks and policy dialogue can improve eye health systems and programs. A full program report – highlighting achievements and lessons learned – is currently being developed.

At the same we are looking forward and drafting a new strategy of work in the lead up to 2020 to focus on:

  • Advocacy for leadership, resources and improved policy from government
  • Building and strengthening collaborations for advocacy and programming
  • Increasing knowledge and skills for advocacy.

As always, working closely with members and partners will be critical in all our strides towards Universal Eye Health. Stay tuned!