Discount for COECSA delegates

Mount Kilimanjaro with text 10% off for COECSA delegates

IAPB wishes the delegates of COECSA a successful conference and offers them a 10% discount on the delegate registration fee for the 10GA (October 2016).

The 4th COECSA Scientific Congress is being held in Tanzania from August 25-26.

The discount will be valid from 25 August to 1 September 2016. Please use the registration code #COECSA to register and get the discount. Register for 10GA now.

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Yoswa Dambisya on human resources for health crisis in Africa

Dr. Dambisya

Yoswa M Dambisya, Director General of the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA- HC) and Keynote Speaker at the 10GA, through his paper titled, A political economy analysis of human resources for health (HReH) in Africa”, sheds light on the multiple reasons behind the human resources for health crisis in Africa and cites the example of the positive strides taken by Ethiopia.

Yoswa Dambisya

Yoswa Dambisya Keynote Speaker 10GA

“Despite a global recognition from all stakeholders of the gravity and urgency of health worker shortage in Africa, little progress has been achieved to improve health worker coverage in many of the African HReH crisis countries”.Of the 57 HReH countries, 37 are still in Sub-Saharan Africa (2011, WHO).

His paper uses political economy analysis and identifies several impediments: dampening of HReH investments due to institutional arrangements, mismatch between tenure in office and program results, vertical nature of health programming and more.

You can download the paper here, HReH Political economy





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Gender and eye health

Orbis Africa

Lene Øverland, CEO, Orbis Africa (and 10GA programme partner) writes on the role of gender in eye health, to mark ‘National Women’s Day’ in South Africa.

Lene Øverland, CEO Orbis Africa | Photo credit: Clare Louise Thomas

Lene Øverland, CEO Orbis Africa | Photo credit: Clare Louise Thomas

It is a known fact that the majority of the 32.4 million people who are blind and the 190.6 million who are visually impaired live in low and middle-income countries. The hard-hitting and sad reality is that the majority are avoidably blind.

One of the greatest challenges to delivering quality eye health services in Sub-Saharan Africa is the lack of appropriately trained human resources equipped to manage the complex health needs of African communities. New and innovative strategies to address these human resource shortages are more urgent than ever if we are to deal with the estimated 4.8 million people who are blind and the further 16.6 million who have severe to moderate visual impairment across Africa. It is essential that we dismantle barriers and enable universal access to eye health services.

The lack of access to services, due to a diversity of socio-economic barriers including gender, is another significant challenge that Orbis faces. In Africa, two-thirds of blind and visually impaired people are women and the problem of gender-based blindness is exacerbated by a lack of access to appropriate healthcare. Men are 1.7 times more likely to receive cataract surgery than women.  If women in Africa received surgery at the same frequency as men, cataract blindness could be reduced by about 12%. In countries such as South Africa, women bear the overwhelming burden of household responsibilities and child rearing, despite debilitating sight loss.

Research in the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa identified that while men were often able to seek financial and personal support from wives or daughters, women carried the double-burden of housework and financially supporting their families.

Both men and women face barriers preventing them from accessing the services they need, but women often experience debilitating challenges when sight loss is coupled with gendered economic, social and cultural expectations.

Fortunately, strategies to address this disparity have demonstrated success in reducing blindness in women. These include:

  • Addressing constraints that limit women’s access to transportation, financial resources and social support has reduced cataract, the primary cause of blindness.
  • Utilising existing social and traditional structures to access families to provide counselling and train women to reach other female community members.
  • Education is key for boy and girl children with congenital eye disease, which is particularly dangerous because left untreated, may cause permanent blindness.

Blindness impedes people’s ability to gain an education, it often prevents people from finding employment or a life partner and it can lead to a lonely life in poverty. As CEO of Orbis Africa I have the pleasure of leading a team of professional staff and leaders who all have one mission at heart – to save sight and to make children see their mother’s smile, husband’s to see their wives after years in blindness and grandmothers to see their grandchildren after sight saving surgery.


A bouquet of CET/CPD for UK and SA Optometrists

The IAPB 10th General Assembly (10GA) is bringing together over 150 international speakers to discuss a wide range of eye care and public health topics in Durban, South Africa in October 2016.

With over 40 courses, symposia and other presentation formats on offer, the 10GA Programme allows UK optometrists, therapeutics optometrists and dispensing opticians to choose from 12 General Optical Council (GOC) approved interactive CET courses. This would give them the opportunity to gain their annual CET 12 points requirement by attending just this one international event.

Courses cover a range of eye care issues: Diabetic Retinopathy, Glaucoma, AMD, ocular therapeutics (and ethics), school eye health programmes, low vision, public health and more. Speakers at these sessions include internationally renowned eye care professionals from around the world.

The 10GA Programme offers CPD in collaboration with the South African Optometry Association (SAOA). The CPD are accredited by the University of KwaZulu-Natal for courses attended in full by South African Optometrists (CPD courses include sessions on therapeutics and ethics).

You can find a full list of CET-accredited courses on the 10GA website, here: and a full list of CPD-accredited courses (for SA optometrists) here:

“I am delighted that the 10GA programme offers such a diverse set of courses and speakers to a discerning audience”, said Alessandro Di Capua, Membership Manager, IAPB. Alessandro has been working on bringing together a variety of accreditations together, including from South Africa. “The 10GA is a great opportunity to share and learn from a diverse mix of eye care actors—with a tangible benefit to take away after the event is over”, he notes.

Karen Sparrow, UK Optometrist and student at ICEH, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said, “The IAPB 10GA is a great opportunity to meet with a wide range of global eye care professionals, share ideas and listen to world-class speakers – and get your CET points at the same time!”.

IAPB thanks Karen Sparrow for her support and advice on the GOC approval process.

National Women’s Day Discount

From left, speakers at 10GA: HE Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Dr Astrid Stuckelberger, Dr Udok Udom, Dr Wanjiku Mathenge, Dr Sheila West, Dr Clare Gilbert and Ms Suzanne Gilbert.
August 9 marks an important day in South African history: National Women’s Day. In 1956, nearly 20,000 women marched peacefully to protest the segregation laws of that era.

To mark South Africa’s 60th National Women’s Day, IAPB offers all African women eyecare professionals a 10% discount on the delegate registration fee.

The discount will be valid from 9 to 16 August 2016. Please use the registration code #AfricanWoman to register and get the discount. Register now.

Register for IAPB 10GA Now

From left, speakers at 10GA: HE Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Dr Astrid Stuckelberger, Dr Udok Udom, Dr Wanjiku Mathenge, Dr Sheila West, Dr Clare Gilbert and Ms Suzanne Gilbert.

Voice-messages to aid post-operative care: 10GA free paper

How effective are outbound voice messages in ensuring positive outcomes for post-operative care? An intervention study at an Orbis partner hospital in Bangladesh has found some positive results and Lutful Hussain, Orbis Bangladesh, will be presenting the data and outcomes as a Free Paper at 10GA.

This intervention study made use of automated voice messages (in the local language) that led to increased post-operative follow-up adherence by parents of cataract patients in pediatric cataract management—especially for the fourth visit (pre-intervention: 55% vs post–intervention: 78%).

Orbis introduced Out Bound Dialing (OBD), where parents of children with cataract received two separate auto-generated voice messages before each follow up and the hospital maintained four post-operative follow ups within six months.

Asia and Africa are home to 99% of the 1.4 million blind children in the world. Child eye health has been the focus of Orbis and it has been working in Bangladesh since 1985.

To know more about the findings of the study, don’t miss Dr Lutful Husain’s presentation at the 10GA, on 29 October, between 11:00-12:30.

Inclusive eye health for all

Sponsor post: David Lewis OAM, Strategic Programmes Director, CBM Australia, our 10GA Programme Partner, writes about CBM’s experiences on inclusive eye health over the years.

I was sad to note the passing of a great pioneer of Community Ophthalmology in Asia, Professor Kazuichi Konyama, in June. At VISION 2020’s launch in Vietnam in 2004, I recall him emphasising, ‘Every human being on the planet has the right to access quality eye health services’.

David Lewis

David Lewis

I was reminded of my work with CBM in West Africa in the 1990s. Working there was a great privilege, and yet, could also be very discouraging. Alongside some wonderful outcomes, we also encountered enormous need which we could not meet, and saw the destruction of vital services by the war in Sierra Leone.

Meeting Mariama, a young mother with bi-lateral cataracts in a remote Sierra Leonean village in 1992 was a profound experience for me. Mariama had not only developed cataracts in her mid-thirties and been totally blind for three years; she had also been profoundly deaf since she was a small child. We of course ensured that Mariama received cataract surgery, but her life could have turned out very differently. Without CBM’s partner community programme and eye hospital, Mariama may never have accessed the services she needed.  It is experiences like these, which make all of us connected with IAPB strive for a world where the most marginalised people can access quality services: This is both their need and their right.

Mariama’s condition is not unique; one billion people in the world–15% of the world’s population—live with disability, including vision impairment. In 2009, CBM began a journey in Inclusive Eye Health. We tested approaches focused on strengthening good existing work in Vietnam, Cambodia, Pakistan, Indonesia and other countries.

Cover of IEH manualBy 2014, we were ready to share some of what we had learnt about inclusive practices with our partners and friends around the world. CBM launched Inclusion Made Easy in Eye Health Programmes, co-branded with IAPB and 13 other member agencies.

The guide helps address two key issues for people with disability:

  • How to make eye care services accessible and inclusive
  • How to assist people with permanent vision loss

In this context, CBM is proud to sponsor the GA course: ‘Inclusion Made Easy in Eye Health Programmes’. The course will explore up to date case studies from committed partners and IAPB member agencies around the world. We will consider a range of factors causing marginalisation, including disability, gender, age, ethnicity, religious minority, poverty, geographic isolation, access to education, and also how these factors intersect. Importantly, the course will bring practical solutions and discussions to strengthening inclusive practice in eye health programmes.

Please do attend the course, so we can strengthen our approaches together.

Inclusive Eye Health – leaving no-one behind!