As a country with expertise in the area of blindness prevention and rehabilitation, Australia is well placed to foster eye health and vision care systems in the region and to support inclusive development practices.
Vision 2020 Australia established the Global Committee in April 2008. The Committee aims to ensure that eye health and vision care are regarded as a public health priority in the Indo-Pacific Region through advocacy to parliamentarians and government officials and coordinating sector policy submissions.
The Committee will continue to advocate for the inclusion of eye health and vision care on Australia’s foreign aid agenda and seek opportunities for funding commitments from the Australian Government and other sources to deliver programs in the Indo-Pacific region. Eye health and vision care programs are cost effective, achieve immediate results, leverage strong local networks and provide opportunities for partnerships with the private sector.
Committee meeting update
The Global Committee met in Sydney on Thursday 17 August 2017.
The Global Committee welcomed Drew Keys, the new Regional Program Manager (Western Pacific) for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)
The Global Committee discussed and endorsed a draft action plan covering the July to December 2017 period - until the end of the current term of the Global Committee.
The action plan is a consolidation of the current priority issues of the Global Committee. The action plan is divided in 2 main sections: ‘Ensuring eye health is regarded as a public health priority’, and ‘Increasing capacity to deliver eye health, vision care services and supports for independence and participation in Asia and the Pacific’.
The Committee has agreed to focus on the following key areas:
1. Secure continued policy support for improvements in eye health and vision care in Asia and the Pacific from the Australian Government
· Respond to DFAT’s Foreign Policy White Paper (FPWP) consultation.
· Engage with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Australia posts in focus countries.
· Engage with Minister for International Development and the Pacific and advocate for increased funding for eye health and vision care programs in Asia and the Pacific.
2. Improve the integration of in-country national eye health plans into the broader health system through regional advocacy and planning
· Follow-up on remaining three activities to be implemented before December 2017.
· Develop a flyer providing a summary overview of the DFAT funded project on sector-led collaboration and coordination in Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, and Vietnam.
3. Ensure Australia contributes to the recognition of eye health and vision care as an international public health priority
· Engage with partners to advocate for the SDGs implementation.
· Engage with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and WHO’s Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) in the current implementation of the Global Action Plan and the post-2020 eye health agenda development.
· Engage with the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) to raise the profile of eye health and vision care
· Engage with members around World Sight Day (WSD)
4. Increase resources for eye health, vision care and services and supports for independence and participation in Asia and the Pacific region from various funding sources
· Engage with DFAT Health Policy Branch, InnovativeXchange through individual meetings.
· Engage with Global Committee members to develop a proposal to mobilise resources for eye health research in Asia and the Pacific.
· Engage with parliamentarians to advocate for increased funding for eye health and vision care programs in Asia and the Pacific.
· Engage with the Australian Labor Party
The Global Committee provided feedback on a draft flyer prepared by Vision 2020 Australia in order to document the outcomes of the 2016-17 project funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on sector-led collaboration and coordination. This was formally endorsed by all project partners in mid-September 2017. Looking forward, it was highlighted that the Gender and Eye Health Working Group of the Committee is currently working on a concept note focusing on gender, education, innovation, and eye health. This activity will be further discussed before the December 2017 Committee meeting.
Global Committee members reiterated their commitment to engage further around the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the leadership of the Fred Hollows Foundation, and welcomed the idea to participate in a workshop in late 2017, to be co-hosted by IAPB and Vision 2020 Australia to strengthen their knowledge about health financing.
Global Committee members were advised that in June 2017, following discussions with Vision 2020 Australia, Senator the Hon. Lisa Singh (Labor Senator for Tasmania) asked several parliamentary questions on eye health in developing countries, pushing for increased development aid funding for the eye health and vision care sector during the June 2017 Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade Legislation Committee.
Further, it was reported that Vision 2020 Australia will be co-hosting a member-led session together with BHVI, FHF, IAPB, and RACSat the 2017 National Conference of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID). The side event will be focusing on Transformational Change and Development and will take place on 2 November 2017 in Melbourne.
- Australian College of Optometry
- Brien Holden Vision Institute
- CBM Australia
- The Fred Hollows Foundation
- International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
- Sight for All
Vision 2020 Australia acknowledges funding received from CBM Australia for Global advocacy.
Previous Committee meeting updates can be found here