Integrated People-centred eye care is the priority of the global eye health sector. Let’s understand IPEC before we head towards advocating for it:
What do we understand by Integrated People-centred Eye Care?
We can simplify the understanding by disaggregating the term “Integrated People-centred Eye Care” into “Integrated” and “People-centred”
Integrated means eye health care which includes all aspects of health care i.e. promotive, preventive, treatment and rehabilitative for all eye conditions.
It is about integrating eye care into the mainstream health system. This involves incorporating eye care into national planning and policies.
Integrated means that the eye health services are in proximity to the people and community and are coordinated across different levels of health care delivery.
Integrated also means that eye health is taken into account in the planning of other development sectors like education, labour and gender.
People-centred care means services that focus on the needs of individuals. It ensures that people’s preferences, needs and values guide health care decisions. The people-centred approach provides care that is respectful of and responsive to the people.
It is about “what matters to you” rather than “what’s the matter with you”.
Therefore, the eye care service which includes all aspects of health care for all the eye conditions is integrated into health systems and in sectors beyond health; and deliver services that are considerate to people’s need, preference and values; and ensures a continuum of care throughout a lifetime is called the Integrated People-centered Eye Care.
Why do we need integrated people-centred eye care?
We need integrated people-centred eye care for the following 3 major reasons:
- Eye health run in siloes in many countries, where eye health services are not delivered through the national health systems. Data on eye health largely remain uncaptured in the mainstream Health Information System and hence not reflected in planning. IPEC is needed to highlight the eye health issues in planning and financing in such countries.
- People-centred health services are proven to have lasting benefits. There is evidence that people-centred care improves health outcomes, care quality and patient experience. On the professional side, it enhances staff satisfaction. IPEC is needed for quality of care.
- Good eye health is directly linked with good health and well-being, quality education and economic growth. It is also critically linked with gender equality and poverty reduction. While the issues of eye health and the cases of blindness and vision impairment are increasing globally, IPEC is the only way to tackle the burden and advance towards achieving sustainable development goals.
How do we put IPEC into practice?
We can put IPEC into practice by following the recommendations of the WHO World Report on Vision.
- Empowering people and communities through health literacy to make them aware of their conditions and actively engage them in health care decisions.
- Reorienting the model of care to prioritize primary and community care services; so that the care is accessible to people both physically and financially.
- Coordinating eye care services with other health services and in other sectors like education and employment.
- Creating enabling environment by strengthening leadership, of which inclusion of eye care into health plans and policies is only one of the possible actions. Strengthening eye care integration into the national health information system and strengthening the eye care workforce.
Where to start with for implementing IPEC?
Putting IPEC into practice starts with advocating for IPEC. So, start advocating about IPEC to the planners and policymakers in the countries from your level to the possible extent. But before advocacy, make sure that you are familiar with IPEC. Learn about IPEC from the Introduction to IPEC online course. The World report on vision and The Lancet Global Health Commission on global eye health are the primary documents with detailed descriptions of IPEC.
The recommended way for informing and persuading policymakers about this fundamental change in the delivery of eye care services is the policy dialogues. National-level policy dialogue with the major government stakeholders is the inception and endorsement of IPEC implementation.
The policy dialogue is key to acquiring commitment from the government and policymakers to the desired change. While a single policy dialogue meeting may formally begin the journey towards IPEC, it is useful to think of policy dialogue as a “process” that will likely consist of a series of meetings over time.
To know more about how to advocate for IPEC, IAPB is launching the IPEC Advocacy to Action Toolkit soon.