The World Sight Day is a global annual event that is commemorated by the Ministries of Health and other organisations working in the area of Eye Health. Like minded organisations gather together in celebrating this day and this makes it easier for the organisations to work together in delivering key advocacy messages around eye health to the Government.
In October 2016, Sightsavers and Standard Chartered Bank staff engaged other eye care organisations namely Orbis, Operation Eye Sight Universal (OEU), and Lion Aid Norway (LAN) to jointly commemorate the day. The aim of the collaboration was to ensure that the eye care partners have one platform through which they can engage the government. Prior to the event, the partners engaged in various meetings to plan for the event and to also agree the key messages that they wanted to deliver on this day.
During the planning meetings, the partners made a number of recommendations among them was to agree and ensure that all partners contributed financially towards the success of the event and also agree to jointly carry out awareness raising activities in the community selected for the celebrations. In addition, partners agreed to carry out a mass screening activity together with Standard Chartered bank staff.
The partners also jointly prepared the speech that was to be delivered by the Minister of Health during the celebrations and this included the key milestones that have been achieved through the Bank’s support to the various eye care organisations. The partners also agreed to include some of the challenges that they face in working with the Ministry of Health and districts hospitals in delivering eye health services to the people of Zambia.
The National Eye care Coordinator was also invited to attend the planning meetings towards the end and this helped to ensure that the speech for the Minister was well balanced for the occasion.
Sightsavers Country Director and Institutional Funding Officer made appointment with the British High Commissioner and invited him to the event. They also paid a courtesy call on the Minister Dr Chilufya and furnished him with information on what Sightsavers is doing in the country prior to the WSD event.
The WSD was well attended with dignitaries such as the Minister of Health; Honourable Chitalu Chilufya, the Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Hon Sichali, The British High Commissioner to Zambia Mr Fergus Cochrane-DYET OBE, Sightsavers Director of Finance and Performance, Mr Ken Moon and Standard Chartered Bank CEO Mr Andrew Okai. The event also included the Heads of all the eye care organisations working in Zambia and other NGOs.
Key Lessons Learnt from the World Sight Day
The Banks Corporate Social Responsibility was made more visible at national level through its involvement in organising the WSD at national as well as community level.
Since the event was hosted/organised as a consortium of eye care support organisations, it was easy to engage/invite the Minister of Health. This made it possible for the different eye care organisations to talk to the Minister of health and all the invited guests about their achievements in the area of eye health. Indicate. The organisations also talked about the gaps that required government intervention to promote and integrate eye health into the wider health systems. This was a key driver to engaging the policy makers and creating good working relationship with the Ministry Of Health.
Pooling of resources from different eye care organisations made the event more visible and attracted a large part of the local population in participating in WSD and accessing the free eye care services. Private eye clinics were also in attendance offering free services. Among them were Agarwal Eye Hospital and Vision Care. These services made the community more aware of the different eye care services being offered, and how these could be accessed. The Blind Peoples Organisations (BPO) and Disability Peoples Organisation (DPO) such as the Zambia Library for the Visually Impaired and the Zambia Federation for Disability Organisation equally joined in the organising and contributed resources in terms of awareness raising through drama.
What needs to be done better?
Due to the increased number of people that turned up for the event, it would be good to increase the number of the screening teams so that the patients are attended to within the shortest possible time.
Article written by
Francis Kalusa Senior Programme Officer; Sightsavers Zambia