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Stakeholders suggest coordinated action to achieve Universal Eye Health Coverage

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Stakeholders in eye care have suggested coordinated action of eye health NGOs and a collaborative plan to achieve Universal Eye Health Coverage by 2030, a vision set by the World Health Assembly.

Speaking at an event in the capital on Monday (July 8), they also called for bringing all organisations in the sector, from national to the grassroots levels, under an umbrella to accelerate efforts needed for Universal Eye Health Coverage.

They were of the opinion that unless such action, plan and efforts it would be hard to attain the Universal Eye Health Coverage within the deadline, which is only five and half years away.

The INGO Forum in Eye Health organised the event titled “Stakeholders Workshop on Eye Health – Towards Universal Eye Health Coverage by 2030” at the NGO Affairs Bureau conference room.

Md Saidur Rahman, Director General (Grade-1) of NGO Affairs Bureau, while speaking as the chief guest assured the eye health stakeholders of extending all sorts of cooperation from his department to smoothen eye health services.

He said local and international NGOs operating in Bangladesh are contributing a lot to eye care services, but they lack coordination among themselves and with the government’s National Eye Care (NEC) and the NGO Affairs Bureau.

The NEC, the national agency responsible for eye care, and the NGO Affairs Bureau cannot have all the necessary data on eye care due to the lack of coordination and collaboration, he added.

Saidur Rahman urged all the NGOs, be they local or international, to come under a single platform so that they can work hand in hand and make a great contribution to eye care.

Prof Dr AHM Enayet Hussain, Chair of Bangladesh Chapter of International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), Dr Peerjada Sabrina Flora, Additional Director General of Directorate General of Health Services, Prof Dr Golam Mostafa, Director-cum-Professor of National Institute of Ophthalmology & Hospital (NIOH) and Line Director of National Eye Care (NEC), and Dr Munir Ahmed, Chair of INGO Forum in Eye Health and Country Director of Orbis International, Bangladesh, also spoke at the workshop, among others.

Dr Enayet Hussain said the programmes of the NGOs working on eye health have to be target-oriented for better results. “If we all work in a scattered way, we cannot achieve SDG goals, particularly eye health coverage goal,” he said.

He stressed the importance of inclusiveness and equity in eye care which are yet to be addressed.

Dr Golam Mostafa underscored the need for standardisation of the ophthalmic professionals working across the country. “They (ophthalmic professionals) are coming from different institutions and their quality varies widely. There should be a system to ensure that they meet a minimum standard,” he said.

Golam Mostafa urged all organisations offering eye care to comply with the National Standard Cataract Surgical Protocol and take the required action to standardise vision centre operation guidelines.

Dr Munir appreciated the NGO Affairs Bureau for extending its hand, saying it would help unite all the players in the field to work together towards achieving the goal, especially the relevant SDGs.

He underscored the need for continuation of the efforts in the future.

Representatives from Orbis International, Sightsavers, CBM Global Disability Inclusion, Hellen Keller Foundation, The Fred Hollows Foundation, VisionSpring, Good People, Heart to Heart Foundation, Essilor Luxottica, Al Bashar Foundation, Ispahani Islamia Eye Hospital, BRAC, Cox’s Bazar Baitush Sharaf Hospital, Mazharul Haque BNSB Hospital Chandpur, Dr K Zaman BNSB Hospital Mymensing and Deep Eye Care Rangpur took part in the workshop.

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