PURPOSE. To address the eyecare needs in Palestine and to develop Optometry as a sustainable part of the health services of the country.
METHOD. In a climate of deteriorating economic conditions and political strife, eyecare in Palestine has been neglected, and attempts to address eyecare are faced with inadequate infrastructure, a lack of eyecare training programs, and a lack of eyecare practitioners. Most optometrists are in the private sector, with the vast majority of the population being unable to access this care.
In order to develop eyecare services, and particularly optometric services, an alliance between the International Center for Eyecare Education (ICEE) and the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees (UPMRC) has been forged.
Drawing on the aims of the WHO Vision 2020 initiative, the program will: train eyecare workers at all levels; train eyecare trainers; develop community education tools; and establish an optometry school as a resource for the Middle East region. The program uses available resources such as the mobile clinics, health care centers and community health college run by UPMRC.
RESULTS. Effective collaboration between local and international resources is developing sustainable eyecare. By addressing human resource and infrastructure development as well as service delivery, the program will deliver eyecare in both the short and long term to Palestinian people in need.
CONCLUSIONS. Vision 2020 is a partnership program which can only realize its goals if similar partnerships are forged at a micro level where delivery occurs. The program between ICEE and UPMRC is an example of such a partnership that is critically needed for the success of Vision 2020.