Boateng Wiafe, Director for Quality and Advocacy, Operation Eyesight had attended IAPB’s 9th General Assembly in Hyderabad, in 2012. Here he writes about how he found the 9GA useful and his plans for 10GA.
What did you take back from 9GA – did you find the experience useful?
Who can carry out Primary Eye Care? To have a successful primary eye care programme, there needs to be coordinated teamwork. There should be regular interaction between the full time eye workers, the integrated eye workers and volunteer eye workers. The short answer therefore is “Everybody”!
IAPB General Assemblies are the only forum where you have the full spectrum of eye health professionals (Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, program managers, representatives of Government and Non Governmental Organizations, corporations), as well as stakeholders from the wider international development and public health communities. 9GA provided evidence for all the activities taking place in the prevention of avoidable blindness and who all are involved to make things happen. It was clear that blindness prevention is about development, social equity, justice and partnerships.
10GA will be in Durban, South Africa in 2016. What kind of topics/subjects in public health/community ophthalmology do you expect to find there?
With the theme, “Stronger together”, in the context of “Universal Access”, meaning building partnerships and ensuring that the whole sector speaks with one voice, I would suggest the following topics:
- Integration of Eye Health into Primary Health Care
- Human Resource in Eye Health
- Using technology to deliver quality eye care
- Identification and addressing issues related to the determinants of eye health
- Economics of Primary Eye Care
IAPB’s General Assembly is coming back to Africa after nearly 25 years. What can African professionals expect to find, based on your experience at 9GA?
In 1990, the 4GA took place in Nairobi, Kenya. I had the privilege to be a participant. The theme was “Sustainable Strategies”, which was appropriate for Africa. You see, in the context of Universal Access the theme chosen is very appropriate. In the African setting, at the community level communal labor is very common. The entire village will go and help one farmer and then it shifts. There is also the concept of “susu” where a group comes together. They make monthly contributions that will go to one person the first month, then to the second one the second month. The amount of cash that comes when it is your turn is substantial enough for that person to embark on a meaningful investment.
If we went home with the Slogan, “Stronger together” then those challenges of Scarce resources–human, infrastructure, equipment and consumables–will be a thing of the past. The issue of lack of awareness will no more be an issue because those whose business it is to create awareness will be empowered to do so efficiently. Quality will be key.
Because it is going to be on the continent I wish more opportunities will be given to African Eye Health Professionals to attend in good numbers.
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Read What to expect from 10GA by Maria Hagan