For close to 12 months now, the coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact across the world. It has changed our way of life, shut down health systems, exposed and exacerbated the vulnerabilities and inequalities within and among countries – with the poorest and most vulnerable suffering the most. The provision of eye care services has been disrupted in almost every country. Safely restarting or continuing eye care services during and as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic is essential to ensure services are available to detect, manage & treat eye conditions for all people irrespective of age, gender, geography, ethnicity and disability.
The IAPB COVID-19 taskforce was formed in June 2020 to support and offer guidance on eye care advocacy, programmes, and services in the context of and as we emerge from the pandemic. The taskforce has carefully considered the difficulties of working in a constantly changing environment and the longer-term implications the pandemic may have on eye care moving forward.
The taskforce was split into four priority sub-groups: Advocacy, Communities & patients, Service providers and delivery and Technology.
Each sub-group consisted of IAPB members, National Eye Care Coordinators and external leaders specialising in health systems, equity, and sustainability. Some of the overarching roles the sub-groups included: identifying and prioritising key issues to be considered while restarting eye care services, identifying good quality resources that can be used by eye care providers and organisations, and consideration for the long-term questions and implications that will need to be addressed in the future.
The COVID-19 taskforce has been successful in delivering crucial outcomes and freely available resources for eye care services. The taskforce groups have produced:
- Key advocacy messages on COVID-19 and Eye Health,
The eye care sector stands ready to work with countries to provide for urgent eye health needs and build up to the return to full services, so the wider health, social and economic impacts of Covid-19 are not further amplified. Five key actions are outlined for global and national decision makers. View all the advocacy messages and key actions on the IAPB website.
- Guiding principles for service delivery
The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath is presenting unique and unprecedented challenges to eye care delivery. The COVID-19 situation in any location tends to change rapidly as infection rates fluctuate, research and understanding develop, and control strategies are changed. Five guiding principles have been developed to help guide eye health service providers to respond to the challenges.
- An online resource repository for service providers
Over 90 key resources, sorted by aspects of eye care practice have been curated for easy download in the online resource repository on the IAPB website.
and recommended the development of a stand-alone technology group in IAPB.
All documents have been added to the COVID-19 section of the IAPB website, where you can also find the recordings of the COVID-19 webinar programme and member stories.
The efforts of the taskforce are intended to support the integration of eye care in health systems and to enhance the safety, reach and accessibility of eye care services and programmes in the new operating environment due to COVID-19.
Image on top: New Normal by Dr. Dawn Hermanns