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First ever Community Eye Health conference held in South Africa!

14 Dec 2010 - 14:00

First ever Community Eye Health conferenceThe delegates, speakers and organisers at the first ever Community Eye Health Conference, held in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

The first ever Community Eye Health mini-conference was held at Pienaardam Leisure Resort near Middelburg in Mpumalanga between 30 November and 2 December 2010.

The mini-conference was initiated and funded by the Mpumalanga Department of Health and organised and presented by the Community Eye Health Institute in partnership with the International Centre for Eye care Education.

The CEH mini-conference, whose theme was"Towards 2020", aimed to review the progress made in government Community Eye Health programmes toward meeting the targets of Vision 2020 at the half-way mark. "Vision 2020 - the right to sight", a global initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020, was launched in 1999 as a collaborative effort between the World Health Organisation, member governments, and about 50 international non government organizations (INGOs) that work in blindness prevention.

Over 50 delegates participated in this event, which comprised of a full programme of talks, workshops and interactive discussion forums. Eye care professionals from all nine provinces were represented.

Speakers, facilitators and delegates shared their experiences of challenges and success and inspired each other for new energy and commitment for the next 10 years. The conference provided many opportunities for delegates to strengthen partnerships between government departments, NGOs and the academic institutions. Topics covered included planning and management of Vision 2020 programmes, accelerating human resource development and issues of partnerships and sustainability.

At the end of the conference delegates agreed that this conference is a necessary event on the calendar of CEH in SA. It was also suggested that the national (and provincial) Vision 2020 committees should participate as entities in future conferences. In addition, a mid-way report card, constructed through discussion with provincial representatives was presented to illustrate the progress made towards 2020. It was decided that the individual provincial report cards be circulated to the provinces for closer scrutiny and correction.

The overall impression from the delegates was that the conference was very informative and assisted in building their awareness of the Vision 2020 initiative, the need for effective planning of eye care services planning and development of human resources for the eye care program.