The Nigerian Optometric Association held its 45th National Conference/ Annual General Meeting and Vision Expo in Abuja, Nigeria. The event focused on leveraging partnerships to transform optometry and eye care in West Africa. Image: Nigerian Optometric Association
Explore and monitor how Health and Healthcare is affecting economies, industries and global issues
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:
Health and Healthcare
Listen to the article
- The Nigerian Optometric Association held its 45th National Conference/AGM and Vision Expo in Abuja, Nigeria.
- The event focused on leveraging partnerships to transform optometry and eye care in West Africa.
- Developing countries need support to provide sustainable and equitable eye care services to tackle preventable sight loss.
The eye is undoubtedly one of the most important organs in the body, making preventable sight loss a global challenge that needs a global solution.
The Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA), led by the National President, Dr Obinna Awiaka, held its 45th National conference/AGM and Vision Expo in Abuja, Nigeria. The event brought global leaders, bureaucrats, industry experts, and the eye care community together to map out ways of achieving the event theme "Leveraging partnerships to transform Optometry and Eye Care in West Africa". At the meeting, Dr Obinna Awiaka stated that it was pertinent to note that optometrists, as primary eye care providers, have been battling at the forefront of the war against visual impairment and blindness.
Improving eye health and advancing SDGs
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include those relating to overall health, economic productivity, poverty, education, and gender equality, can be achieved by improving the availability and quality of eye health services globally. In 2020, 1.1 billion people were living with unaddressed vision impairment, and this statistic is expected to grow to 1.8 billion by 2050.
One of the most important recommendations for the future of eye care is Integrated People-Centred Eye Care - an initiative built on the WHO's global strategy for people-centred and integrated health services endorsed at the 69th World Health Assembly in 2016.
Have you read?
Implementing Integrated People-Centred Eye Care
We need Integrated People-Centred Eye Care for three major reasons:
1) There’s a strong connection between health and well-being, high-quality education, economic growth, and their marked impact on reducing poverty and gender inequality. Consequently, integrated people-centred eye care remains the only approach to tackle the burden surrounding vision impairment and blindness and advance towards achieving the SDGs.
2) In many countries where the national health service does not provide eye health services, it is managed in silos. Planning does not consider eye health data because it is largely absent from the mainstream health information system. Thus, integrated people-centred eye care is required to draw attention to the problems associated with ocular health and the lack of planning and funding in such countries.
3) Research shows that people-centred eye care services provide long-term advantages, especially through improved health outcomes and enhanced employee satisfaction.
Financing for eye care
To develop, run, and sustain eye care programmes successfully, several resources are required - finance being among the most essential of these.
During the event, the President of the Nigerian Optometric Association, Dr Obinna Awiaka, called on governments of developing countries like Nigeria to invest in eye care at all levels of healthcare, especially primary eye care, to extend its reach and avoid the impending blindness epidemic.
Narrowing the gap between eye care needs and service provision
The shortage of skilled eye care workers has hampered the delivery of eye care in developing countries like Nigeria.
What is the World Economic Forum doing to improve healthcare systems?
Ideally, eye health workers would be distributed based on demand. The need for eye care in rural areas is typically significantly greater than in metropolitan areas, however, very few eye care professionals choose to work in rural areas, frequently because of the absence of eye care facilities and poor working conditions.
This is how this yawning gap can be bridged:
- Governments must recognise the eye care workforce as a productive investment rather than an expense. Investment in trained eye health personnel like optometrists, who are the primary eye care providers through employment opportunities, is essential to reduce avoidable visual impairment and blindness.
- Ophthalmic training for every member of the eye care team and across all service levels is needed. For example, the Nigerian population has a higher prevalence of cataracts than other Sub-Saharan African countries. This is a difference that must be taken into consideration when financing, employing, and training eye care workers.
Don't miss any update on this topic
Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.
License and Republishing
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
More on Health and HealthcareSee all
Tomoko Fukuda and Andreas Daugaard Jørgensen
March 4, 2024
February 29, 2024
February 27, 2024
February 26, 2024
February 23, 2024
Smriti Zubin Irani and Shyam Bishen
February 21, 2024