The VISION 2020 Workshops 2016 in Eastern Mediterranean followed after a Regional GAP review and planning for HReH meeting. Four follow up national meetings were held in selected countries who were facing multiple challenges including insecurity and large numbers of refugees.
The Eastern Mediterranean regional workshop was held to coincide with the MEACO meeting, in Bahrain to allow the National Eye Coordinators to attend both meetings. There were National Coordinators or Ministry of Health representatives from 13 countries in the region, also present were WHO, INGOs, IAPB, representatives of national and regional training institutions. This workshop had originally been planned for 2015.
The workshop had two broad objectives, firstly to address the need for improved monitoring of Human Resources for Eye Health (HReH) and secondly to review the status of implementation of GAP in member states and to discuss best practices.
As part of the process, indicators and mechanisms for identifying and monitoring HReH were identified, with the thought of possibly setting up a regional repository for data.
Prior to the workshop each country had carried out a situational analysis on the available HReH in their country, their distribution, number, governance and policies. This data was then analysed and used during the group sessions.
This led to the identification of the core cadres needed for optimal eye care in each country. This will form the basis of national advocacy initiatives to begin to influence change and get more resources allocated to these cadres by the Ministry of Health.
Potential Indicators to be used for the national HReH and possibly EMR HReH repository were identified in line with the national Health Information Sysyems (HIS). These are under the following categories: Personnel, Training, Governance and Trends
EMR HReH repository; It was agreed to have an EMR HReH repository which will have vital information on cadres, training institutions, CPD, Governance and trends. The repository’s host, resources need, mechanism of data collation, mechanism of utilization/access will be finalized after further discussions, with WHO EMRO and professional bodies like MEACO etc. The repository will need to be updated on an annual basis.
Database of all Training institutions and Continuous Medical Education (CME) providers, and basic facts about them will be developed in collaboration with professional bodies, NGOs and MOHs. This will form part of the regional HReH repository.
The EMR HR workforce committee will be reconstituted in order to re-energize it to lead some of the main recommendations /decisions of this workshop. Revised Terms of reference and list of new members will be developed by IAPB EMR and circulated to all stakeholders for comments and suggestions.
It was reported that in the region 14 out of 21 countries had developed their national Action Plan on eye health and that most were in line with the Global Action Plan. Two more countries are scheduled to develop their plan in late 2016 – 2017. In three countries insecurity has made planning difficult if not impossible. Follow up meetings were scheduled to support four countries in their planning – Yemen, Libya, Lebanon and Jordan.
In Jordan, a meeting was hosted by WHO-EMR with IAPB to discuss the status of the National Eye Health Plan (2014 – 2019) with the National Coordinator and The President of the National Society of Ophthalmologists. The meeting summarised ongoing work and achievements, plans and challenges.
In Lebanon a consultant was hired to gather data on the status of eye care services from the Ministry of Health. This information was used to identify issues in healthcare and eye care in Lebanon, which was presented to WHO-EMR. The next step has been to develop a draft five and ten year plan, both of which have been reviewed by WHO-EMR and Dr Warak, the President of the National Society of Ophthalmologists. The five year plan has now been submitted to the President of the National Society to take forward.
In Libya the national plan was finalised during a meeting of the National Committee and has now been approved by the Minister of Health. Due to insecurity in the country the plan had been on hold since 2014 so it a great achievement to get it approved at last.
In Yemen WHO-EMR and the Ministry of Public Health and Population arranged a three day strategic planning workshop to develop a national eye health strategy 2016-2020 in line with the GAP. By the end of the meeting a set of recommendations had been agreed on, which were then submitted to the Ministry of Health to form the basis of their new strategic plan.