This workshop was the fourth such event, building on the success of similar workshops in Ghana (2014 and 2015) and Togo (2017). The overall objective of these workshops has been to equip the eye health sector with the tools and techniques to integrate the planning the eye heath workforce into broader national HRH plans as the first step in governments assuming a greater responsibility for the expansion of the workforce. 18 countries have now been introduced to the techniques of systematic and strategic advocacy, with success to date in 8 countries and progress in 5 more. This workshop brought together national eye care coordinators, directors of HRH and IAPB member agencies in Sierra Leone, Botswana, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Ethiopia. Over the course of 3 days, delegates were introduced to the full extent of the eye health workforce crisis in Africa, the advocacy planning cycle, planning materials and the need for in-country collaboration to resolve the crisis.
This workshop equipped key stakeholders in 4 countries with the means to take forward the integration of eye health workforce planning as part and parcel of broader national HRH planning. All 4 countries are now determined to take this first step in strategic advocacy, bearing in mind that a change in policy – an integrated workforce plan – is often meaningless without the requisite change in practice, in this case persuading Ministries of Health to resource the expansion and further development of the eye health workforce. By the end of the workshop each country had produced a draft Action Plan for the next 18 months to share with all other stakeholders on their return home given that successful advocacy require as large a coalition of supporters as possible. In this regard, a coordinating partner for each country was invited to participate in the workshop to ensure momentum is maintained at national level and to keep IAPB Africa abreast of developments as the process unfolds.