Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsMy name's Peter Ackland, and I'm the Chief Executive of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness-- the IAPB. I'm here today to tell you a little bit about what IAPB does. So IAPB was founded 40 years ago. We're a membership organisation. We have over 150 organisations around the world who are members. Most of the big organisations working on eye health are a member. And our mission is to eliminate avoidable blindness from the world. And at IAPB, we're very passionate about eliminating avoidable blindness. We think it's not very good really that there are more than 218 million people in the world who are blind or visually impaired, and 80% of them don't need to be. So what does IAPB do?

Skip to 1 minute and 5 secondsOur main focus is around three areas-- advocacy, knowledge, and promoting collaboration between the many actors who are working in the eye health world. So I wanted to just tell you a little bit about each of those three things. Let me start with advocacy. One of the things that the IAPB has been doing for many years is working very closely with the World Health Organization. In 1999, we launched the VISION 2020 programme. This brought together all the main actors in the eye health world and gave them a common purpose and a common approach. Since then, there's been a number of resolutions. The most recent one was passed in 2013, and it included an action plan.

Skip to 1 minute and 55 secondsAnd that's called Universal Eye Health-- a Global Action Plan, 2014 to 2019. And that really lays out the main approach that we and WHO and countries should adopt in trying to eliminate avoidable blindness in their country. And that brings me on to a second area of focus for our advocacy work. IAPB has been very involved in the sustainable development goals and trying to make sure that there is a stake for eye health in those goals. I'm sure most of you know about the SDGs-- 17 goals, 169 targets. But there are three of those which are quite relevant for eye health. One is goal 3, target 3.3, which is about the elimination of neglected tropical diseases.

Skip to 2 minutes and 51 secondsSo that includes trachoma and onchocerciasis-- river blindness. 3.8 is around universal health coverage. And I think we all know probably that one of the big limitations in our world is the lack of trained personnel who are able to deal with eye health problems, particularly at community level. So these are opportunities which are within the sustainable development goals, which at the IAPB we are trying to promote. So how does that actually help you at country level? Well, every country should have a national plan for eye health, in response to the global plan. Every country is having to provide to the UN a plan of how it will implement the SDGs in its country.

Skip to 3 minutes and 41 secondsAnd most countries have got health workforce development plans. So let me turn to the second key area of IAPB's work, which is around knowledge. So with so many members working with so many partners all around the world, we get to see lots of good examples of what works well in different places. And it's about sharing that knowledge amongst all our members and other stakeholders. So we've developed two resources, which I just want to talk to you about today. The first one is the Vision Atlas. And this is a resource. You could go online and see it. And basically, it's got three main components. The first bit is all around the prevalence and the estimates of blindness and vision impairment.

Skip to 4 minutes and 35 secondsAnd you'll see in there data for the global, for regional, but also for your country. The second area in the Vision Atlas is around the global action plan indicators. So for each country in the world, we've collected how they're performing against those key indicators. And again, you can go in, look at your country, and see how your country is doing against those very important milestones of progress. And the third area is we've managed to get a number of articles specially commissioned to focus in on topic of issues of the day around eye health.

Skip to 5 minutes and 17 secondsThe second area that I wanted to talk about was the standard list. So IAPB standard list of drugs, equipment, and consumables is also available online. And if you go into that, you'll see a number of essential lists, telling you all about the equipment and what you need to run a eye health service. There will be product recommendations. So for each piece of equipment that you need, we will make a recommendation. All the products on the site are good quality and recommended by us. And it's based on many years of experience of procuring these pieces of equipment. And the standard list also has videos and information about procurement, generally, and what equipment does. Finally, let me turn to collaboration.

Skip to 6 minutes and 8 secondsAnd this is a really important part of IAPB's work. With so many different organisations working in the area of eye health in so many different countries, it's really important that people know what each other is doing and preferably join forces and work together to achieve a common goal at country level. So IAPB does a number of things to make sure that happens. Every four years, we have a big General Assembly. 2016, we had one in Durban. The next one will be in New Zealand in 2020. In intervening years, we have a council meeting.

Skip to 6 minutes and 47 secondsAnd we try and choose a country where there will have been some impact of us being there and try and bring everybody together, together with the government and national stakeholders, to talk about eye health in that country. We produce a number of publications to share what people are doing. You can find that on our website.

Skip to 7 minutes and 9 secondsThank you for listening. And I wish you good luck with the rest of the course.

The IAPB and the Global Action Plan

In this step, Peter Ackland, CEO of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, discusses the work of the organisation as it leads attempts to eliminate avoidable blindness.

The IAPB’s goal for 2013-17 is to increase access to eye health, particularly for those in society who are most marginalised, and fulfil their right to sight. In order to achieve a target 25% reduction in the prevalence of avoidable visual impairment, the organisation will focus on three key strategic aims:

  • Advocacy: by way of changes to government policy, health systems, and resourcing decisions at global, regional, and national levels
  • Knowledge, Skills, and Cost Effectiveness: to enhance understanding of eye health and coverage of services
  • Resourcing the Strategy: to ensure that IAPB members are equipped and supported to meet its objectives effectively and efficiently.

In May 2013, the World Health Assembly approved and endorsed the draft resolution “Towards universal eye health: a global action plan 2014-2019”. This was a result of the IAPB’s advocacy work in months leading up to the Assembly and gives a blueprint of what really needs to be done in order to eliminate avoidable blindness. The overall target of that action plan is to reduce avoidable blindness by 25% during the lifetime of the plan. More information about the plan can be found on the World Health Organization’s website.

World Sight Day

World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. On WSD non-governmental organisations (NGOs), professional bodies, educational and research institutions, and major hospitals work together to raise public awareness about, and influence governments on, blindness and visual impairment as major international public health issues.

Have you taken part in any WSD activities? Share your favourite WSD stories and experiences in the Comments.

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This video is from the free online course:

Global Blindness: Planning and Managing Eye Care Services

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine