WCO’s Role in Public Health and Advocacy
“Why Optometry? the case for delivering quality, advance and equitable eye health and vision care for patients” (WCO, 2015) outlines the need for optometry to be fully engaged with national public health agendas. The challenges of avoidable vision impairment are articulated and optometry’s role as a primary care profession is explained.
- WCO sees its role as strengthening partnerships to advance advocacy for vision care to be fully integrated into the public health agenda globally. Since 2006, WCO has been recognised by The World Health Organisation (WHO) as a profession with the appropriate skills to have a profound influence on the provision of comprehensive eye and vision care, which includes refraction and dispensing, detection/diagnosis and management of eye disease.
- WHO/WCO have now entered into the next phase of its collaboration with WHO for the period 2015 -2017 and the following areas have been identified to support the Universal Eye Health: Global Action Plan 2014 -2019 (GAP). WCO has committed to the systematic collection of the number of optometrists and their scope of practice around the world and, to support this work, WCO has entered into a Memorandum Of Understanding with the Brien Holden. WCO will also offer specialized technical advice when required by the WHO.
- WCO committed to organising high level policy symposia during the 1st World Congress of Optometry that took place in Medellin, Colombia, the Presidential Forum and supporting the implementation of GAP at regional and national levels through the implementation of WCO’s advocacy strategy. The Presidential Forum’s objectives were to: identify priorities for the profession; strengthen partnerships; improve public perception and recognition of the role optometry by governments and local communities; define the supportive role that the optical industry and research/education bodies should play; define the WCO’s leadership role and identify approaches to mobilise resources in support of the profession and its mandate to provide quality accessible eye care.
- In partnership with Brien Holden, WCO has supported the development of an Advocacy Toolkit for training trainers. Advocacy remains an important role for WCO to lobby regional and national optometrists’ associations and argue for well-funded eye health services, integrated national eye health policies and multi-sector approaches.
- Additionally, as a Board Member of the IAPB, WCO continues to contribute to three IAPB standing committees: Uncorrected Refractive Error, Diabetic Retinopathy and Human Resources, which facilitate collaborative work with our Ophthalmology colleagues and other health sector professionals to increase access to quality eye health and vision care.