I am delighted to note – as I am sure you are – that a new report jointly authored by the WHO and the World Bank includes Cataract Surgical Coverage (CSC) as a ‘promising’ indicator for monitoring Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Firstly, it’s a fantastic report; strong research, keen arguments and accessible to a wide(r) audience.
The report charts the importance of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and how fundamental the concept is to the achievement of the health goal that will be included in the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September (You can read more about the report and the CSC inclusion here).
I have been working with Hans Limburg and many friends in putting together the data and graphs to present our case to this team for many months. Indeed, it is great to note that the report includes a fair chunk of our recommendations. For example, on pages 32 and 33 of the report there is a detailed section on CSC showing data provided by IAPB. CSC is also highlighted in some important sections of the report – in the Executive Summary, CSC is referred to as “a promising indicator not only of ophthalmological surgical care coverage, but also of access to care by the elderly”. In the conclusion on page 35 “Tobacco non-smoking, hypertension coverage, diabetes coverage and cataract surgery coverage offer a way to monitor NCDs and are already being measured”. And very importantly, CSC is included in Table A1.1 on page 63 which summarises the 13 proposed indicators.
It’s a great milestone and congratulations all around!
Over the next few months we shall use the inclusion of CSC in this seminal report to press with renewed vigour for CSC to be included in the indicator framework that is being developed by the UN Statistical Commission to support goal 3.8 of the SDGs.
In the mid-term we will advocate for the “promotion” of CSC into the WHO’s Global Reference list of 100 core health indicators (currently it is listed in the “additional indicators” list). The promotion of CSC as a UHC monitoring indicator should help us advocate for it to make the top 100 list.
Equally important is the need for us to keep CSC in subsequent UHC monitoring reports – it is expected that the report will be produced every 2-3 years.
To achieve these future advocacy goals we have been advised by WHO that an important factor is to keep the CSC data coming. The more data we have – in this report we had data for CSC in 23 countries – the more chance we have of getting greater recognition of CSC as an indicator for UHC monitoring. We, the IAPB coalition of members, need to set ourselves a target – I would suggest a minimum of 80-100 countries to be able to provide national CSC data by 2020.
Finally, let me thank all those people that helped with the advocacy work to date. They are too many to list here but let me make special mention of Hans Limburg who provided the raw CSC data for us to work up the evidence to support our advocacy case.