Stakeholders from Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia gathered in a virtual forum on January 27 to discuss measures and solutions to enhance eye care services.
|Participants shared lessons to enhance eye care services in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam |
Titled 2030 In Sight, the event attracted partners from the Collaboration to Preserve Sight from the Fred Hollows Foundation, the Vitreo-Retina Society of the Philippines, Perdami, and the National Committee for Sight Preservation.
Convened by the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) in collaboration with Novartis, the virtual forum aims to consolidate partners’ efforts in building on the key takeaways from the one-year Collaboration to Preserve Sight.
Amanda Davis, chairwoman at IAPB said, “2030 In Sight is the IAPB's strategic plan to end avoidable sight loss for the next decade. It takes the evidence and know-how generated over the past 30 years, leverages the significant political momentum that eye health stakeholders have generated and lays out an ambitious approach that will guide their work until 2030 and beyond.”
Its three key objectives are no unnecessary or preventable sight loss and that everyone should achieve their full potential; making eye care and rehabilitation services accessible, inclusive, and affordable to everyone; and spreading awareness about the importance of caring for one's eye health.
Eye care remains challenging during the pandemic, as identified during the initial implementation of the initiative. As health facilities focused on treating COVID-19 patients and increasing vaccination coverage, limited access for other patients was becoming an issue.
“The pandemic has greatly worsened existing inequalities in access to eye care services.,” said Dr. Noel Chua, chairperson of the National Committee for Sight Preservation (NCSP).
Opportunities to enhance eye care services
As of December, the Collaboration to Preserve Sight initiative has reached one million people through awareness initiatives; screened 78,000 patients; detected vision impairments among 11,000 patients; facilitated seven out of 10 diagnosed patients to seek consultation; and treated six out of 10 patients; along with launching social media campaigns for patient education and screening schedules.
|The 2030 In Sight event was held online between Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam |
“We thank our partners for enabling the Collaboration to Preserve Sight initiative to have a meaningful impact, with 60 per cent of people in vulnerable communities seeking consultation and receiving treatment despite pandemic restrictions. The initiative demonstrates that intensified screening coupled with innovative patient education facilitates the journey to sight preservation,” said Christine Fajardo, lead of Asia Cluster Patient Engagement and Corporate Affairs at Novartis Healthcare Philippines.
Based on the learnings from the initiative’s implementation in the three countries, the forum aimed to generate recommendations on how to provide equitable access to eye care services in underserved communities in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
It also seeks to start a policy dialogue on getting national support for eye care initiatives and recommendations, as well as build alliances with media in communicating recommendations and facilitating concerted action for universal eye health.
Dr. Phuc Huynh, head of the Vietnam Cluster at the Fred Hollows Foundation said, “To this end, eye care policies need to be innovative and adaptable to different settings and dynamic conditions. Strong partnerships with governments and other key stakeholders are vital to raise public awareness in eye health and enhance eye care services.”