According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), 253 million people in the world are visually impaired, 36 million of which are blind while 217 million have moderate/severe visual impairment. And more than a billion cannot see well because they don’t have access to glasses.
During the recent World Sight Day on October 8, Novartis Healthcare Philippines and IAPB launched the multi-stakeholder “Collaboration to Preserve Sight” to address eye screening gaps in the country.
“Novartis is privileged to collaborate with the IAPB and our other partners to provide eye screening and education in eye care and raise awareness on the massive unmet needs in eye health,” Jugo Tsumura, president and managing director of Novartis Healthcare Philippines, said during a virtual media briefing.
With political commitment to take action to make eye care an integral part of Universal Health Coverage and to implement ‘integrated people-centered eye care,’ IAPB Western Pacific chairperson Amanda Davis enthused, “there is Hope In Sight.”
“We laud this multi-stakeholder partnership to address eye screening gaps in the country and realize the Philippines’ commitment to the Global Elimination of Avoidable Blindness: Vision 2020 – The Right to Sight,” said Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho, director of Health Promotion Bureau at the Department of Health.
According to Mardi Mapa-Suplido, country manager of The Fred Hollows Foundation, “Our program will implement a home vision screening campaign encouraging families during the quarantine to detect simple eye problems at home, then refer to provincial eye centers for further diagnosis and treatment in Tarlac, Quezon, Oriental Mindoro, Antique, Negros Oriental, and Surigao del Norte.”
The Mulat Mata Diabetic Retinopathy Project, on the other hand, aims to set up a comprehensive diabetic retinopathy program consisting of awareness campaigns and education, diabetic retinopathy screening, and data gathering. The program will begin at the community level in Bulacan, said Dr. Marie Joan Loy, president of Vitreo-Retina Society of the Philippines.
For National Committee for Sight Preservation’s part, chairman Dr. Noel Chua said, “We are privileged to support the ‘Collaboration to Preserve Sight’ through the development and roll-out of a National Eye Health Communications Strategy Plan, the replication of the home vision screening program in 10 provinces, and the pilot of an online vision screening program for kindergarten students.”