This World Health Day - April 7th 2018 - Vision Aid Overseas is supporting quality Eye Health for All through our three-step call-to-action.


Alongside the World Health Organisation and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and following on from our call-to-action on global eye health this March, Vision Aid Overseas is urgently calling for Universal Eye Health Coverage to ensure quality and affordable Eye Health for All by 2020.

 

 

Why do we support Eye Health for All?

Globally an estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide cannot see clearly due to near vision impairment simply because they do not have a pair of glasses. We are all well aware that the solutions and strategies to provide quality eye health to everyone already exist, however we also know that such strategies are neither funded nor implemented equally across the world. We believe this is due to eye health being underprioritised politically and financially.  

 

What can be done?

We know we will never achieve impact at scale without three critical ingredients: political will, adequate funding and meaningful collaboration. This is why, this World Health Day, we are calling for action on these three specific areas to form a critical mass of support to create a step change in Eye Health for All.

 

Step one:  Policy Change

We know that Eye Health for All can be achieved when political will is strong. We are calling for a step change where all national governments and donors commit to

  • Integrating eye health services into National Health Plans

  • Achieving targets to recruit, train, equip and employ more Eye Health Workers;

  • Adequately resourcing school health programmes which include eye health so that all children entering the education system receive an eye health check-up and appropriate intervention including spectacles;

  • Ensuring the provision of spectacles and low vision devices are part of the essential health package;

  • Developing capacity to monitor, evaluate and research the extent of the need for Refractive Error services. 

 

Step two:  The Right Resources

As the Overseas Development Institute’s report on Primary Eye Care confirms this week, funding for this essential work has been substantially lower than more life threatening global issues and yet living with poor eye sight leads children to drop out of school and stops adults from earning the money needed to support their families. Such lost productivity costs global economy $202 billion per year.[1]  As the ODI report outlines, without additional investment in primary eyecare, the cycle of poor eye sight and low development outcomes could continue. Vision Aid Overseas has already shown that improvements in educational and livelihoods outcomes are not only possible but are already a reality. 

Through our work in Ethiopia, funded by DFID and Essilor Vision Foundation funded programme found that out of the 2,569 children treated between 2012- 2016, almost three quarters (73%) showed improvements in their school performance and that 78% of adults treated reported an improvement in their quality of life and an increase in household income after either minor surgeries or provision of glasses.

 

As such, we ask that adequate resources are allocated within global, regional and national budgets.

 

3: Innovative Eye Health Partnerships

We know Eye Health for All cannot be achieved alone. This is why we ensure that Vision Aid Overseas always works in mutually beneficial partnership with local communities, charities and Ministries of Health and Education across Africa as well as international donors, charities, companies, UK eye health professionals and invaluable donations from UK public to ensure eye health is available to everyone everywhere.

We are calling for more such innovative partnerships to be formed by all stakeholders within and beyond the eye health sector to further this goal for Universal Eye Health Coverage.

 

Eye Health Partnership in Focus

Just one example of our essential Eye Health Partnerships was highlighted at last month’s Vision Matters event at the House of Commons, where Chainama College of Health Sciences’ graduate, Chipo Mweemba, reminded the audience of the recent progress:

 

 

 

Five years ago, we only had two Zambian optometrists practicing in the entire country. That changed soon after Chainama College of Health Sciences introduced the optometry course with Vision Aid Overseas being the core advocate and sponsor of the programme. From 2013 to date Chainama College has graduated 52 optometrists with diplomas in the field.

Vision Aid Overseas has similar successful Eye Health Partnerships across Africa. Find out more here.

Join us on our journey to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to quality affordable eye care. Email: [email protected]. Telephone: 01293 535 016

Follow the conversation on Twitter #VisionMatters #HealthForAll 

 

[1] Smith TST, Frick KD, Holden BA, Fricke TR, Naidoo KS, ‘Potential lost productivity resulting from the global burden of uncorrected refractive error’ in Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 2009; 87.