Vienna, a city packed with imperial history, was the site for the IAPB regional workshop on the Global Action Plan: ‘Towards Universal Eye Health in Europe’, held with the support of our WHO partners. This workshop brought together the Heads of National Societies of Ophthalmology from across Europe to discuss the Global Action Plan, look at its relevance in their countries and to identify what needed to be done to turn the plan into action when they get home.
It was a fascinating meeting with 21 countries represented, covering a vast slice of the globe – from Ireland, to Norway, to Turkey, to Russia. I think this was the first time that IAPB has arranged a regional meeting for representatives from every country in Europe and from the enthusiastic response of participants they truly appreciated the opportunity to work together.
We were lucky to have Hugh Taylor with us, with his wealth of experience, and both Peter Ackland and Ivo Kocur who spoke about the experience of rolling out the GAP in other regions.
By the end of the workshop every representative had committed to speaking to those with influence and decision making power in their countries to make them aware of the GAP and what needed to be done. The message for us all was that each person had a responsibility to do this and to pick out one thing that could be achieved by World Sight Day.
What I found fascinating and exciting was the evolution of informal partnerships between people and countries, in the past we have see links develop between Moldova and Turkey and I am sure that similar alliances were forged over this meeting.
A last word on the team from Moldova, led by Professor Bendelic, who had already lined up a meeting with the Ministry of Health for the following week to discuss how they would go about developing their National Eye Health Plan.
Special thanks to Janos Nemeth, IAPB Chair for Europe, for organising the event and introducing us to the nutritious benefits of Tafelspitz