The recent Board meetings were organised in Dubai with unstinting support from HRH Prince Abdulaziz Al Saud, Dr Alamuddin and the very professional IAPB EMR team. IAPB is sincerely grateful for their generosity.
The first Board meetings of 2015 concluded last month mark some crucial milestones for IAPB. They are the first set of meetings after we adopted the new governance framework: Three of the four trustees recently elected as Group C representatives on the board were present, ensuring an even broader range of perspectives and experiences were now available around the table. After focusing on the membership and governance review last year, the ‘new’ Board doubled down on strategic issues central to IAPB’s mission.
Peter Ackland’s CEO report showcased IAPB’s work over 2014 and also mentioned key staffing changes: Elizabeth Tinsley is the new Head of Finance and we have a new regional coordinator, Luis Perez, in Latin America.
The Board endorsed a new framework around the establishment of IAPB work groups. All members can now initiate a group for discussion and exchange on a particular theme, subject to board approval. So if there is an area of interest you think should be addressed via an IAPB work group do get in touch to start the process.
A lot of discussion went in to clarifying the regional structure of IAPB and the next steps would be to look at detailed governance mechanisms, monitoring systems, staffing and budgeting needs. The key importance of the role of Regional Chairs for IAPB’s governance and our ability to fulfill our mission was reiterated by the board.
Peter initiated a crucial discussion on a new approach to pick up on the successes of the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC), which will be ending in 2015. The discussions focused on the need to establish synergies with the broader Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) agenda – including coordinated mass drug administration strategies. Everybody agreed that it was important that hard-won gains of Onchocerciasis control were not lost while transiting to the new state of affairs. In this context, the Board wrote a letter to the new WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Rebecca MOETI, extending every support.
The Board also discussed new and fast-moving developments around ‘Post 2015’ and the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda. It was recognised that there was one key area where the new SDG framework could benefit from our agenda: Disability. IAPB is also trying to make a case for Cataract Surgical Coverage (CSC) as one of a small basket of indicators that will be used to measure SDG 3.8 (on Universal Health Coverage).
In the context of the Global Action Plan, the board discussed the various Regional Action Plans that have been formulated, including the plan for a workshop in June 2015 in the only remaining region, Europe. The RAAB repository – which we will try and support – and the two new eye health assessment tools were also discussed.
Peter showcased the plan to create a new ‘Vision Atlas’, on the lines of the Diabetes Atlas by 2016. Based on data from the Vision Loss Expert Group, the atlas should be launched at the 10th General Assembly in 2016. On World Sight Day 2015, IAPB is encouraging the sector to use the call to action; “Eye care for all”. Think of all the groups of people who need eye care – especially the most vulnerable or the ones most in need. What can we do to bring eye care to them all? How can we ensure that access to eye care is not limited by gender or geographic location, or even financial status? Do remember, ‘Eye Health’ also includes rehabilitation and assistive services for those with irreversible vision loss.
This World Sight Day, let’s do something that will draw attention to the great unmet need in eye care services.
It was a great opportunity to meet the members of the board and you should be able to delve deeper into these issues from the links above.
I Look forward to seeing you all again at the Council of Members meetings in 2016