Enhancing Advocacy for Eye Care at National Levels: What Steps to Take for the Next Decade?
Muhammad Mansur Rabiu, Abdulaziz Al Rajhi, Mohammed Babar Qureshi, and Jennifer Gersbeck
Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology
The global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness by the year 2020-(VISION 2020- The Right to Sight), established in 1999, is a partnership of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), governments, bilateral organizations, corporate bodies and the World Health Organization.
The goal is to eliminate the major causes of avoidable blindness by the year 2020. Significant progress has been made in the last decade. For example, the adoption of three major World Health Assembly resolutions (WHA 56.26, 59.25 and 62.1) requesting governments to increase support and funding for the prevention of blindness and eye care.
Additionally, the approval of the VISION 2020 declaration, development of plans and establishment of prevention of blindness committees and a designation of a coordinator by most participating countries represent other major achievements.
Furthermore there has been increased political and professional commitment to the prevention of visual impairment and an increase in the provision of high-quality, sustainable eye care.
Most of these achievements have been attributed to the advocacy efforts of VISION 2020 at the international level.
The full success of this global initiative will likely depend on the extent to which the WHA resolutions are implemented in each country. However, most ratifying countries have not moved forward with implementation of these resolutions.
To date, only few countries have shown consistent government support and funding for eye care pursuant to the resolutions.
One of the main reasons for this may be inadequate and inappropriate advocacy for eye care at the national level. As such it is believed that the success of VISION 2020 in the next decade will depend on intense advocacy campaigns at national levels.
This review identified some of the countries and health programs that have had fruitful advocacy efforts, to determine the factors that dictated success. The review highlights the factors of successful advocacy in two countries (Australia and Pakistan) that secured continued government support.
The review further explores the achievements of the HIV/AIDs control network advocacy in securing global and national government support.
Common factors for successful advocacy at the national level were identified to include generation of evidence data and effective utilization of the data with an appropriate forum and media to develop a credible relationship with prominent decision makers.
Aligning eye care programming to the broad health and development agendas was a useful advocacy effort.
Also a broad all-encompassing coalition of all stakeholders provides a solid platform for effective and persistent advocacy for government support of eye care.