CBM a key sponsor and program partner of IAPB General Assembly

CBM is a key sponsor of the IAPB’s 10th General Assembly (10GA) from 27-30 October 2016 which will be held in Durban, South Africa. The 10GA is the biggest event in the 2016 eye health calendar and will bring together global experts in eye health, eye health institutions, NGOs, networks and government representatives to discuss public health issues related to blindness and visual impairment. With the theme “Stronger Together”, IAPB aims to build and strengthen partnerships and ensure a united voice.

The following blog is written by Dr. Babar Qureshi, CBM Director for Neglected Tropical Diseases on his part in CBM’s upcoming course, ‘Inclusion Made Easy in Health Programmes’, that focuses on disability inclusive practices for eye care.

Grarbet Tehadiso Mahber (GTM) -Trachoma Prevention Control Programm, P 3014 Ethiopia Trachoma outreach in Didamidore (Mareko district). Chaltu Egedo (27) and her daughter Jemanesh (2) have a trachoma infection. Ophthalmologe Dr. Lelissa Munduma examing their eyes.

Grarbet Tehadiso Mahber (GTM) -Trachoma Prevention Control Programm, P 3014 Ethiopia
Trachoma outreach in Didamidore (Mareko district). Chaltu Egedo (27) and her daughter Jemanesh (2) have a trachoma infection. Ophthalmologe Dr. Lelissa Munduma examing their eyes.

According to global figures, people with disability, including those with vision impairment, make up 20% of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people. It is therefore essential that everyone working in eye health, including planners, providers, evaluators and funders, understand key steps they can take at their own level, to build inclusion for all people.

Since 2009, CBM has been working on approaches to Inclusive Eye Health (IEH) with two key objectives:

  • People with all disabilities access eye health services
  • People with permanent vision loss access wider opportunities, i.e. in all areas of health care, rehabilitation, education, livelihoods, social inclusion, and empowerment

In this context, CBM established pilot projects in inclusive eye health in Cambodia, Vietnam and Pakistan in 2009-10. Subsequently, pilots were run in India, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. CBM is now working with a range of other countries to strengthen inclusive practices in eye health. In 2011, CBM published its first Inclusive Eye Health manual, and an updated version followed in 2014.

CBM recently commissioned a study to identify good practice, and evidence of strengths and weaknesses in the Pakistan IEH pilot, which was implemented in Charsadda district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Province, through CBM’s partner CHEF International. This programme worked with 4 Basic Health Units at the primary level, one district hospital at the secondary level as well as a number of local schools. It was implemented in the context of the 2010 floods which had caused significant damage to the physical infrastructure of the local partners.

The key strengths identified in the study were:

  • Greater accessibility of eye health services
  • A new national government focus on inclusive eye health and integration into government systems
  • The creation of a sustainable referral system
  • Greater community awareness of services and a change in community perceptions of people with disabilities

The key areas for improvement identified were:

  • Better analysis of data needed
  • Further improvements to accessibility and referral systems needed
  • Further improvements for awareness within the community, particularly in terms of policies and referral services, needed

So, don’t miss CBM’s course on 29 October, to hear about the details of this study, and CBM’s wider work in Inclusive Eye Health.

CBM NTD Report 2016:
More than 1 billion people – one-sixth of the world’s population – are affected by one or more neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), and another 2 billion people are at risk, mainly in the tropics and sub-tropics. Take a look at our Neglected Tropical Diseases Report 2016 for more information about our work with NTDs.

Inclusive eye health:
‘Inclusion Made Easy in Eye Health Programs’ is designed for program staff in international development organisations. It is a practical guide on how to ensure eye-health programs are disability-inclusive. It is accompanied by a handy brochure/ poster with 10 tips for getting started.

Connect with us and know more

Follow live coverage of the IAPB GA on the CBM website, Facebook and Twitter as well as the blog.

Persons with disabilities, the SDGs and UHC

In late September, working with CBM Germany, I had the wonderful opportunity to present at two VENRO workshops and meet with officials in Germany. The first presentation I gave was over “No Transformation without Inclusion: Social Equality, Empowerment and Participation of Persons with Disabilities” with a focus on persons with disabilities in development and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The second was on “Leaving no-one behind through Universal Health Coverage and Health System Strengthening?” with a specific focus on persons with disabilities, the SDGs, and access to universal health coverage (UHC).

Alt="Presenting at the VENRO conference on persons with disabilities, SDGs and UHC"

Presenting at the VENRO conference on persons with disabilities, SDGs and UHC

I have put my second presentation into written form below since it is a compelling, as well as timely topic, as one of the Goals in focus for HLPF 2017 is Goal 3 on ensuring healthy lives.


Universal health coverage means that everyone has access to quality health services without experiencing financial hardship[1]. It is a fundamental human right for all people to have access to UHC and health systems and facilities have to be inclusive and accessible to all persons, including persons with disabilities who are more likely to lack health coverage since persons with disabilities are more likely to live in impoverished conditions and to be the most marginalized.

Persons with disabilities encounter specific barriers in accessing healthcare services. These include higher costs for persons with disabilities, lack of accessible transportation, and inadequately trained medical staff. Moreover, women and girls with disabilities face additional barriers, for example enhanced constraints on traveling independently or preconceptions about whether they need certain services, such as sexual and reproductive health services.[2]

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015. This Agenda aims to build a better future for all people, including the chance to lead decent, dignified and rewarding lives and to achieve their full human potential and strives to end poverty, reduce inequalities, and save the planet from ecological degradation and climate change. The Agenda is universal, inclusive, and participatory in nature with an overarching focus on leaving no one behind. Universal health coverage should reflect the notion of leaving no one behind by providing access to people living in poverty first because they are often excluded and are the ones who face most difficulties in accessing basic services, including health care.

Research shows that ensuring access to quality health care for persons with disabilities increases their productivity and the wealth of their household.[3] Thus, good health should be seen as an investment rather than expenditure and UHC should be a top priority for sustainable development. And indeed, UHC is one of the cornerstones of sustainable development since healthier people are able to work more productively and have a higher educational performance. Accordingly, UHC is highlighted in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals along with inclusive language that includes persons with disabilities.

Specifically, Goal 3 “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” is inclusive of all people, as well as target 3.8 “Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.” The current global SDG indicator 3.8.1 also includes all people, including persons with disabilities: “Coverage of essential health services (defined as the average coverage of essential services based on tracer interventions that include reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases and service capacity and access, among the general and the most disadvantaged population).”

Also, important is target 3.3 “By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases.” This is because if neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are not addressed we will not achieve target 3.8 on UHC, Goal 1 on poverty eradication, Goal 2 on ending hunger, and Goal 4 on inclusive and quality education. Moreover, other goals, including Goal 6 on WASH, Goal 13 on Climate Change, and Goal 17 on MOI and the Global Partnership are closely linked in the elimination of NTDs.

Thank you to all my CBM Germany colleagues who supported my visit and stay, in particular Jan-Thilo Klimisch, Sarah Meschenmoser, Michael Herbst, Susan Pusunc, Veronika Hilber, and Maja-Lisa Mueller. It is a pleasure to work with all of you!

[1] WHO (2010). “The World Health Report 2010. Health Systems Financing: The path to universal coverage,” WHO Press, Geneva.

[2] CBM (2015). “Dialogues on Sustainable Development: A Disability-inclusive Perspective,” CBM.

[3] Danquah, L., et al. (2014). “The long term impact of cataract surgery on quality of life, activities and poverty: results from a six year longitudinal study in Bangladesh and the Philippines”. PLoS One. 2014 Apr 18;9(4):e94140.

Inclusive humanitarian action – Africa leads the way

The 4th Annual International Humanitarian Partnership Conference, organised under the Inter Agency Working Group on Disaster Preparedness for East & Central Africa (IAWG), has just finished in Nairobi. It was a pleasure to attend, and to have the chance to contribute. And it was an inspiration to all who are advocating for meaningful inclusion in humanitarian action.

I embolden the word ‘meaningful’ because I see a difference emerging in the rhetoric at these events. Attendees are now generally aware of the statistics like one billion persons with disabilities worldwide, and the fact that people with disabilities are disproportionately affected in disaster and conflict situations. But now, it seems we are moving on, and really identifying the causes and solutions.

The theme at this year’s conference was ‘Disability and Age Inclusion in Humanitarian Practice: Scaling up progress toward the achievement of Agenda 2030‘. The timing is good: In the last 18 months we’ve seen the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), the release of the related Dhaka Declaration, and the launch of the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. And of course we have the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which marks 10 of existence this year.

These documents provide the foundations. We are now ready to build, and I saw evidence of this over the last few days.

Many speakers highlighted in their presentations that if we are to achieve inclusion as an end result, then we need to ensure inclusion from the outset. What does this mean? It means that persons with disabilities – usually through Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) – must be part of policy-making and planning of humanitarian action. And this should not be simply ‘checkbox attendance’, but should be meaningful (that word again) participation.

There was a real appreciation during the event of the various unique skills and knowledge of the individuals present and of the organisations they represent (from humanitarian organisations, to DPOs, to organisations of older people). So much so that hands shot up at the end when asked who has specialist knowledge to share. One participant neatly described it as ‘organisations helping each other through the baby steps of learning inclusion’.  Call it baby steps or not, I’m sure there will be much networking and cross-learning to come.

A regional working group on inclusion was proposed, and widely seconded.

And there was a general acceptance of the fact that to achieve this ‘first phase’ inclusion, organisations need a smarter hiring process and accessible infrastructure. All good news.

For me, I was delighted to present our new Humanitarian Hands-on Tool, which is still a prototype but well on the way to release. Feedback on this was positive. We are at the point where the basic nuts and bolts guidance is necessary for field workers tasked with inclusive preparedness and response initiatives. Watch this space for this one.

Of course, the need for data disaggregated by disability was raised. This is not an afterthought: It is an ongoing concern across all the 2015 agenda fields, an essential prerequisite if we are to deliver aid that works for everyone.

Lastly, a telling point was when asked who is responsible for ensuring inclusion, we came to the conclusion that we all are.  I look forward to the future.

Read some of the social media buzz as it happened



CBM’s End the Cycle has a new website!


Since September 2015 I’ve the great privilege of coordinating the End the Cycle project. End the Cycle is a CBM International programme that promotes the human rights and lived experience of persons with disabilities in low and middle income countries.

Screen shot of new website www.endthecycle.info

Screen shot of new website www.endthecycle.info

Over time, End the Cycle has become known for producing short, high quality and engaging videos that promote the lived experience of a person with disability. Persons with disability from low or middle income countries tell their own in their own words. Over time, the videos have helped bring the perspectives, opinions and contributions of persons with disabilities into meetings, conferences, trainings and awareness raising events all around the world.

In 2016 End the Cycle has taken a big leap forward to help take the resources even further.

On 20 September 2016 End the Cycle launched a brand new website www.endthecycle.info. For the first time, videos and factsheet are now available online in English, French and Spanish and can be directly downloaded from the website.

It’s really exciting seeing some of the most popular End the Cycle videos and factsheets translated into new languages, making it possible for them to be used in even more places around the world. We are planning to add new stories in the months to come: Starting with stories from Jordan.

To learn more about End the Cycle visit www.endthecycle.info