IAPB and the WHO, through the VISION 2020 workshops programme, are focussing on four priority areas in the implementation of the Global Action Plan (GAP). These are:
Convening regional workshops to promote implementation of the Global Action Plan in countries across regions.
The development of an eye care services assessment tool by WHO and its subsequent roll out at regional and country level.
The generation of evidence on the prevalence of visual impairment and its causes, through RAAB studies.
Updating the eye medicines included in the essential medicines list.
The workshops play an important role in the delivery of these and in 2013/14 (See 2013 Report) this has been in two ways.
Workshops to promote GAP in the IAPB regions
In December 2013 IAPB and WHO held a joint GAP-themed workshop in Brazzaville, Congo to identify priorities for the Africa region and to develop a joint plan of action. The success of this workshop was certainly due to the strong representation from WHO and the representatives from the Ministries of Health from 15 countries. In this workshop the critical areas identified for Africa were Human Resources for eye Health (HReH), Primary Eye Care (PEC) and Health Management Information Systems (HMIS).
In 2014 a regional workshop to roll out GAP and to develop ways to implement it at national level was held in Cairo, Egypt for the Eastern Mediterranean countries. This workshop recommended that all countries in the region develop their national eye health plans by 2014. Several countries in the region had already developed their plans earlier in the year and were able to provide case studies for others to learn from.
We hope to have a South East Asia regional workshop in partnership with WHO to do the same for countries in that region.
Workshops to support GAP delivery
The programme will support generation of evidence on the prevalence of visual impairment and its causes by supporting a RAAB Training of Trainers (ToT) to train 12 new RAAB trainers for the regions of Europe, Africa, South East Asia and Eastern Mediterranean. This will be the third such training and will help build up a pool of certified RAAB trainers to meet the demand for RAABs from Governments and members. These 12 people will need to be supervised on a RAAB following their training before they can be certified as ‘RAAB trainer’. We are particularly excited that we have 2 Francophone candidates to service this underserved area.
The VISION 2020 workshops programme, running since 1999, is a well-recognised brand, with a pool of committed and loyal supporters from throughout the eye health world – and now further afield in recognition of the importance of a Health Systems approach. These people, who share their time and expertise, are key to the programme’s success. The programme is flexible, locally owned and can respond to meet the needs expressed locally whilst delivering targeted workshops identified by IAPB and WHO on topics essential to the delivery of GAP.
We have learnt many lessons over the years and I hope we have responded to meet the challenges. We are now strengthening our partnership with WHO, linking GAP, but to also assess longer term results.