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EMR forms ‘Low vision and rehabilitation taskforce’
Dr Ahmed Trabelsi The IAPB-EMR had established a taskforce to upscale low vision and rehabilitation (LVR) services in the region. The taskforce is to carry forward the recommendations of a regional workshop on enhancing LVR services in EMR held in from 10 - 12 December in Doha, Qatar.

Members of the taskforce are Dr Ahmed Trabelsi - Chairman, Dr Boshra Elbayoumi, Dr Hassan Minto, Noura Abdullah, Dr Abdulhanan Choudhury - WHO EMRO.

The terms of reference of the taskforce includes:
  • to prioritize the most effective and doable recommendations (from the Doha workshop recommendations) to be implemented,
  • to Identify practical and effective ways to implement the prioritized recommendations including monitoring, to Identify resources and partners that can be used to implement the recommendations,
  • to Implement the prioritized recommendations and
  • to serve as reference group for all LVR services in the region.

EMR Regional Workshop on Low vision and rehabilitation Services in Doha, Qatar
al noor logo iapb logo Shafallah Foundation
The Prevention of Blindness Union (PBU), in collaboration with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness – Eastern Mediterranean Regional office (IAPB-EMR), successfully concluded the EMR Workshop on Low Vision and Rehabilitation Services from 10 - 12 December 2012 in Doha, Qatar. The purpose of the meeting was to create awareness about low vision and rehabilitation (LVR) services as a part of comprehensive eye care in the region and develop a regional strategy to increase awareness, coverage and access in member countries.

The meeting was attended by local and international experts on low vision, the National Coordinators for the prevention of blindness from 19 EMR countries, WHO-EMRO, World Blind Union, professional bodies and many non-governmental organizations. The 3-day workshop was very interactive, with plenary sessions as well as group-work that culminated in comprehensive recommendations and strategies towards enhancement of low vision and rehabilitation services in the region. For the workshop recommendations, please click here.

Al Noor Institute for the Blind, Doha and Shafallah Foundation Qatar generously supported the workshop.

Low vision and rehabilitation  services

Tanzania Project: PBU sponsors ophthalmologists for fellowships in India
PBU, through a funding support of Prince Ahmad Abdulaziz Al Saud, is sponsoring 2 ophthalmologists from the Muhimbili University of Health Sciences Dar es Salam to undertake fellowship training. Dr Neema Daniel had commenced an 18 month long term fellowship training in Glaucoma at the prestigious LV Prasad Eye Institute Hyderabad, India. While Dr Paul Nyaluke will commence a one year fellowship program in Pediatric ophthalmology at the esteem Aravind Eye Hospital Madurai India.

Dr Neema in the Clinic

Saudi Arabia develops strategic plan for the control of diabetic retinopathy
NPBC Logo The Saudi Arabian National Prevention of Blindness Committee (NPBC), in collaboration with the Ophthalmology Department of King Saud University (KSU) and Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH), organized a strategic planning workshop for the control of diabetic retinopathy in the Kingdom.

The workshop was held from 25 - 26 November 2012 in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was attended by regional and international experts in diabetic retinopathy control, Endocrinologists, general physicians, Ophthalmologists and vitreo-retinal surgeons within Saudi Arabia, and MOH officials in charge of public health, non-communicable diseases and diabetes control.

diabetic retinopathy control

The main goal of the workshop was to develop a national comprehensive action plan for the control of the Diabetic Retinopathy in Saudi Arabia, which will include the screening of patients as well as recommendation of treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy.

Al Basar International Foundation holds Community Eye Health Course in Sudan
Al Basar International Foundation (BIF) held a 3-days ‘Short course on Community Eye Health’ from 21 - 23 November at Makkah Eye Complex (MEC), Khartoum Sudan , a hospital owned by BIF. It was held in collaboration with CHEF International & PBU. A number of 23 participants (Ophthalmologists, Optometrists & Eye-care Mangers) mostly from Sudan, two from Yemen and one from Afghanistan attended the course. The faculty included Dr Mohammad Babar Qureshi, Dr Haroon Awan, Dr Para Ramchandra Prof Dr Mohammad Saleh Memon, Dr Abdulaziz AlRajhi, Dr Adel A. Rushood, Dr Ahmed Trabelsi, Dr Shariq Masood, Dr Kamal Hashem.

During the period also the 3rd batch of ‘Ophthalmic Assistants’ and 1st batch of ‘Ophthalmic Technologists’ trained by Makkah Ophthalmic Technical College (an institution of BIF) graduated.

Community Eye Health course in Sudan

Nadi Al Bassar conducts cataract surgery eye camp and training in Cameroon
Nadi Al Bassar in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank and Tunisian Agency for Technical Cooperation performed the 7th mission in Douala Cameroun under the leadership of Dr Walid Zbiba.

460 adults with 4 children (2-4 years) had their vision restored after cataract surgery. A 3 year old child said to his blind mother: “Maman, je vois que les couleurs ont change” (“I can see the colors has changed”); while the sister of the church had her second eye operated successfully. During the camp, 6 young Ophthalmologists were also trained on small incision cataract surgery and skills on how to better manage the operated eyes. The Cameroonian Minister of Health and the Governor of Douala celebrated the event by field visit.

Nadi Al Bassar conducts cataract surgery eye camp

Tanzanian project: PBU donates ophthalmic equipment to Ophthalmology Department of MUHAS
Slit lamp microscope The PBU in support of the East Africa College of Ophthalmology in upgrading ophthalmology training in Muhimbili University of Health Sciences (MUHAS) Dar El Salam Tanzania had donated a number of diagnostic and curative ophthalmic equipment’s in the last one year to the Ophthalmology department of the University. This includes slit lamp microscopes, operation microscopes, operating tables and supporting facilities, surgical equipment’s etc.

PBU support to the MUHAS is made possible by a generous donation from Prince Ahmad Abdulaziz Al Saud from Saudi Arabia.

Operating microscope Operating table

World Sight Day 2012
World Sight Day is an annual day of awareness to focus global attention on blindness, visual impairment and rehabilitation of the visually impaired held on the second Thursday in October.

World Sight Day is observed around the world by all partners involved in preventing visual impairment or restoring sight. It is also the main advocacy event for the prevention of blindness and for Vision 2020.

Different countries and NGOs conducted various activities:

Saudi Arabia
The Saudi National Prevention of Blindness Committee (NPBC) chaired by Prince Abdulaziz Ahmad Abdulaziz, in collaboration with many institutions, hospitals and eye medical centers in the Kingdom, has concluded the celebration of the World Sight Day 2012 (WSD2012) held on Thursday, 11 October 2012 in three regions of Saudi Arabia. The activities conducted included:
  1. Awareness lectures about eye diseases and “Vision 2020: The right to sight”
  2. Free eye examination
  3. Exhibitions showcasing the different eye diseases
  4. Distribution of awareness brochures and booklets
  5. Radio and television interviews with senior ophthalmologists on eye diseases and concept of Vision2020: The Right to Sight
WSD2012 WSD2012

CHEF Pakistan
This year CHEF International in Pakistan celebrated this very significant event with key focus on creation of public awareness regarding preventable causes of blindness. All the activities were organized involving eye care teams with the active community participation. The teams placed at Ten Community Vision Centers (CVCs) of CHEF-International in different parts of the country organized multiple activities like public awareness walk, seminars and screening of school children for refractive errors or low vision. The team of CVC Peshawar (KPK) organised a fund raising exhibition in which handicraft made by the female employees at CHEF International, students of the school for the blind, Peshawar and the Livelihood project (CHEF) collectively celebrated the World Sight Day 2012. See detailed program.

wsd2012 in Pakistan wsd2012 in Pakistan

On 11 October 2012, WHO-EMRO, WHO Representative’s Office, Egypt, other organizations and institutions around the world observed the World Sight Day. There was no global theme for the Day this year allowing participating organizations to use the occasion to highlight their own priority areas.

In Egypt, organizations focused on the major causes of blindness – cataract, glaucoma, refractive errors, trachoma and diabetic retinopathy. There are about 900 000 blind people in Egypt, and yet 80% of all visual impairment is preventable or can be cured. Avoidable blindness and visual impairment are global health problems which have significant economic dimensions. Globally, 285 million people are visually impaired, of whom 39 million are blind. The global economy loses tens of billions of dollars annually as a result of blindness and visual impairment, which affects the whole of society. In the Eastern Mediterranean Region, over 23 million people live with visual impairment, of whom 5 million are blind.

RAAB DR survey in Irbid, Jordan
Irbid Jordan Survey in Irbid Jordan

For evidenced based planning and monitoring the DR project n Irbid had commenced RAAB + DR survey. A total of 3800 persons 50 years and older randomly selected will have blood sugar test, eye examination and DR grading for the diabetics among them.

Health education materials for DR control distributed in Irbid Hospitals
No control of eye complications of diabetics can be achieved unless t the public and the diabetics know about measures to prevent, control and take care of diabetes. In view of that the DR project produced posters, pamphlets, rollers and ceiling hangers to educate not only diabetic patients but also the general public on ways for diabetics to take care of their eyes to prevent visual loss.

Irbid Hospitals1 Irbid Hospitals2
Irbid Jordan Irbid Hospitals3

New WHO Action plan: your inputs needed
WHO Logo A draft version of the new action plan for the prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment for the period 2014-2019 titled “Universal Access to Eye Health: A Global Action Plan, 2014-2019” has now been released.

It can be recalled that the WHO Executive Board in January 2012 requested the WHO Director General to develop a new Action Plan for the prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment for the period 2014-2019. The new action plan is being developed in consultation with member states and international partners.

As such the WHO is seeking comments on this draft by 8 October 2012. The WHO will also host a face to face consultation with member states and international partners on 8 October 2012 in Geneva. Based on these consultations the draft will be finalized for submission to the WHO Executive Board which will meet in January 2013.

A copy of the draft and further information on the consultation process and how to submit a response are available here.

59th WHO-EMRO Regional Committee Meeting to discuss the new Action plan
WHO Logo The 59th regional committee meeting of the WHO-EMRO taking place 1 - 4 October 2012 in Cairo will discuss the new action plan for the prevention of blindness on 3 October under Agenda 8a with the title ‘Follow-up on regional action regarding Executive Board decision EB130(1) on the implementation of the action plan for the prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment’.

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