The Optometry Department, at the University of Lahore in collaboration with Al-Baseer Foundation conducted a four-day workshop from July 29 to August 2, 2019 to raise awareness on Inclusive Eye Health (IEH) and promote disability inclusive practices among health and eye care service providers from across Pakistan. Faculty members from the UOL’s Optometry and Allied Health Departments participated in this workshop that called for the urgent incorporation of IEH Module in the curricula of Bachelor of Science and MPhil in Optometry/Allied Vision Sciences at different academic institutions across the country.
The workshop consisted of informative and interactive sessions on effective counselling techniques, modalities on how to overcome health dilemmas, and modern ways of handling persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups. Several experts were invited from the Eye Health Sector as guest speakers prominent among them including Dr. Zahid Jadoon (Dean and Deputy Director, PIC Ophthalmology, Peshawar) and Dr. Muhammad Mazhar Awan (Medical Director, Khairuunisa Eye Hospital Karachi and CEO Vision Trust). The duo delivered lectures on IEH frameworks including SDGs and the importance of early access and intervention for children with visual impairment and school eye health services.
The UOL Chairman BOG, Mr. Awais Raoof welcomed all the national and international dignitaries and participants and appreciated Al-Baseer Foundation for introducing the concept of IEH at the UOL. He applauded participants and Eye Care Service providers for their participation in this timely platform.
Experts underscore IEH incorporation in the taught curricula
Mr. David Lewis (International IEH Expert, CBM Focal point for IEH and Environmental Sustainability) participated from Australia through Skype and shared progress and achievements on IEH within Pakistan and on the global scale. Farah Naz (Country Director, CBM Pakistan) shared the national achievements and future prospects of IEH in Pakistan and appreciated the initiatives by Al-Baseer Foundation and The UOL in promoting disability inclusion. She suggested to the Chairman BOG to incorporate IEH Module in the various UOL degree programs of Optometry and Allied Health Sciences.
Hassan Tareen (Low Vision Specialist and Disability Expert from Lahore University of Management Sciences) presented on assistive technology and Accessibility Audit Experts from Milestone (a Disabled People Organization) shared real life challenges faced by persons with disabilities. Disability experts also conducted sessions and trained participants on how to deal with persons with different disabilities as healthcare professionals and measures to be taken at organizational level.
Dr. Zahid Awan (IEH Manager, CBM Country Office Pakistan) became part of the session through skype and shared valuable outcomes of the previous workshops in Pakistan. Dr. Azmat Shah from Al-Basar International shared the current situation of disability, poverty and blindness in the sub-Saharan Africa region specifically in the Niger.
The workshop helped the participants to learn and appreciate the overall concept of disability and IEH. They got to know about the disability related work being done within Pakistan and the policies and procedures at the national level i.e. UNCRPD ratification, Community Based Inclusive Development Network, Pakistan Disability Act, tax relief for persons with disability, customized wheelchairs VS hospitalized wheelchairs and disability card/ health card etc.
The UOL, Al-Baseer Foundation applauded at the closure
At the closing ceremony, the chief guest Professor Dr. Asad Aslam (National Coordinator and the Chairman, National Committee for Eye Health, Pakistan) discussed the absolute importance of IEH and its advances at the national level. He cherished the initiatives taken by the UOL and Al-Baseer Foundation in promoting disability inclusion in the curricula of Optometry (BS and MPhil) degree programs being taught at the UOL.
Professor Dr. Mujahid Kamran (The Rector, UOL) thanked the facilitators for their hard work and guaranteed his full support for the incorporation of IEH module in the curriculum of Optometry courses. Dr. Khizar Bashir (Director Comprehensive Eye Care Program, ULTH and Head of Optometry Department) commended participants and guest speakers for their invaluable contributions. The distribution of shields of honor and certificates of appreciation by the chief guest, marked the closure.