World Sight Day 2018
HCP celebrates World Sight Day through supported events in Ethiopia, Nepal and Ghana
World Sight Day (WSD) is an international day of awareness, held annually on the second Thursday of October to focus attention on the global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment. Coordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), WSD is supported by over 150 IAPB member organizations, which include NGOs, ophthalmology and optometry professionals, teaching hospitals and corporations, united in working to eliminate avoidable blindness and visual impairment. This year’s theme was Eye Care Everywhere and included a photo competition.
In Ethiopia, HCP worked with the Federal Ministry of Health and combined our WSD celebrations with our partner in global eye care, Orbis International. HCP has spent the last 10 years in Ethiopia and our impact is strengthened by our partnerships with SightLife/CorneaGen and Orbis, the first eye care NGO in Ethiopia who was celebrating 20 years in Ethiopia.
World Sight Day also gave us an opportunity to celebrate the Eye Bank of Ethiopia’s (EBE) 15 years of service. The EBE celebration was widely attended by Ethiopian media and honorable guests, former President Girma Woldegiorgis and Addis based artist, Brook Yeshitla. Former President Girma inaugurated the Eye Bank in 2003 and also pledged his corneas upon death to raise awareness and encourage donations. Brook is an artist, advocate for disability rights and unofficial EBE spokesperson and pledged his corneas during the celebration to encourage donations.
In addition to celebrating the EBE, HCP Board Member, Matt Oliva gave two lectures aboard Orbis’ Flying Eye Hospital, the first on cornea surgical techniques and on IanTECH’s miLOOP, a micro-interventional cataract surgery platform. HCP Partner and Medical Director of the EBE, Dr. Menen Ayalew Shibeshi also performed cornea transplants and HCP Partner and Ophthalmic Nurse, Meseret Ayele Nigatu assisted aboard the Flying Eye Hospital while it was in Addis Ababa.
In Ghana, we had an official WSD celebration event in Accra, where all NGOs who support eye health in Ghana received awards, including HCP. Michael Gyese, President of the Ophthalmological Society of Ghana, presented the awards and talked at length of the need and success of the National Cataract Outreach Program (NCOP), a collaboration between HCP and the Ghana Health Service (GHS). The NCOP which was officially launched at Eastern Regional Hospital in Koforidua last month is an effort to address the cataract backlog and improve cataract care at the national level.
In Nepal, the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology (TIO) spearheaded HCP’s WSD efforts. For messaging, Tilganga released eye health and WSD public service announcements providing awareness through radio broadcasts and robust media outreach. Promotional materials were made and distributed at Tilganga and throughout the community for display in public places.
Leading up to WSD, Tilganga organized a Pediatric Symposium that was led by Pediatric Ophthalmologist, Dr. Srijana Adhikari. Ministry of Health Secretary, Dr. Pushpa Chaudhary addressed the conference and gave opening remarks. Also was in attendance were almost 100 experts from countries around the world including the United States, Canada, Singapore, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia.
WSD also marked the launch of two partnerships and worldwide campaigns with Halma plc and Johnson & Johnson Vision. Johnson & Johnson Vision’s campaign, #spotlightsight, was created to raise awareness of the importance of eye health and to support the global humanitarian efforts of HCP and Lions Clubs International Foundation’s (LCIF), Sight for Kids program. Halma plc started their Gift of Sight campaign with the release of a video filmed at an HCP outreach in Ghana with plans for employee engagement events in 2019.
World Sight Day comes but once a year, but the message rings true no matter what the day, we can convince the world that we need to step up efforts to improve eye care and access to eyecare around the globe.