Previously our Director of African Programs, earlier this year Dr. Boateng Wiafe’s role changed. An ophthalmologist with over 25 years of experience, Dr. Bo is now our Director of Quality and Advocacy. He’s been working with Operation Eyesight since 1985, when he was recruited to work in Zambia on the Seventh Day Adventists’ church health system. In 2006, he became an employee, first as regional advisor, then regional director.
How can advocacy help eliminate avoidable blindness? “By securing the support of key players,” says Dr. Bo, “such as other eye health providers, national governments, other development partners, and corporate bodies. We advocate for increased support for eye care and the prevention of vision loss.”
In Operation Eyesight’s work to end blindness, we collaborate with ophthalmologic societies, training institutions, and international non-government organizations (INGOs). Our goal is to get them to support and implement Vision 2020, the global initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness.
In his current role, Dr. Bo represents us on various working groups and committees dedicated to ending avoidable blindness, such as chairing the Primary Eye Care working group of IAPB (International Agency for Prevention of Blindness) in Africa. He also networks with the many other eye care organizations in the countries where we work. Much of this work can involve policy at the government level.
For example, in Ghana, Operation Eyesight is working as part of a group called Human Resources in Eye Health, which is working with the government to integrate eye health expertise into a document on human resources in health care. This is important to ensure that eye care is part of government strategy on health care.
Also in Ghana, Operation Eyesight has led in the development of a National Eye Care policy, which is currently in the process of government review. This is how advocacy has a meaningful impact on the issue of avoidable blindness.
Dr. Bo is also hard at work on developing and implementing Operation Eyesight’s policy on quality. “All throughout our history of over 50 years,” says Dr. Bo, “we at Operation Eyesight have believed in and have ensured delivery of best quality treatment to all, including the poorest who cannot afford to pay for the services.” The main objective of this policy is to lay down certain guidelines, protocols, standards and best practices that should help us to deliver quality eye care to all our target communities.
For our purpose as eye care providers, achieving quality means achieving these attributes:
- Safety: patients should not be harmed by the care that is intended to help them;
- Patient-Centred: care should be based on individual needs;
- Timely: waits and delays in care should be reduced;
- Effective: care should be evidence-based;
- Efficient: best use of resources and reduced waste; and
- Equitable: care should be equal for all people, regardless of their gender, economic status, caste, religion, etc.
“I always consider myself as the one on the other side of the desk,” says Dr. Bo. “If I were the patient would I be happy with the care I am receiving? When we pursue quality single-mindedly, we almost automatically achieve the goal of reaching out to many more people, and can also achieve sustainability. When every person has access to quality, sustainable eye care, we can achieve the goal of ending avoidable blindness.”
Our thanks go out to Dr. Bo. We value his expertise and tireless work! Learn more about our African programs here.