March 15, 2022
GENEVA, Switzerland – The World Health Organization (WHO) presented a worldwide webinar today to launch the “Be He@lthy Be Mobile” toolkit for the management of myopia. Developed in conjunction with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), this toolkit includes evidence-based message libraries for key end-user groups along with operational guidance and resources for adapting, implementing, and monitoring its “MyopiaEd” education program. The toolkit is intended to assist policy and decision makers and implementers to establish a digital health program targeting education on myopia and its prevention throughout the world.
Moderated by Dr. Alarcos Cieza, Unit Head Sensory Functions, Disability and Rehabilitation, WHO, the webinar included presentations describing the toolkit, a panel discussion on “The role education and health behavior change in the management of myopia,” and case studies of myopia management and prevention from Uganda and Singapore, among other remarks.
In addition to the toolkit, WHO is also launching the “SPECS Initiative” this year to support countries to increase spectacle coverage while delivering quality care. The SPECS Initiative has five key pillars: “To (1) develop innovative models of screening and delivery of Spectacles; (2) support the training of Professionals; (3) improve public Education targeting the prevention and management of refractive error; (4) reduce the Costs of optical services; and (5) ensure robust Surveillance of effective coverage of refractive error.
Dr. Stuart Keel, Technical Officer, Vision and Eye Care Programme, WHO, described the “Be He@lthy Be Mobile” toolkit: “Today we focus on the pillar of education,” he said, referring to the SPECS Initiative, “in recognition that improving public education is critical in the management of myopia. With this in mind, the WHO developed this MyopiaEd toolkit. The toolkit has two key components. The first is evidence-based message libraries to be delivered to individuals in the population over a set duration. These have been developed for four distinct population groups, and four distinct libraries have been developed for the general population involved in the care of children, parents or caregivers of children with myopia, adolescents with myopia, and adults with myopia.
“The next component is a toolkit that contains background information but more importantly contains guidance and resources to support countries and other stakeholders in a step-by-step fashion through planning, developing, implementing, and measuring a digital health message initiative targeting myopia education. The MyopiaEd program supports behavior change that contributes to delaying the onset and possibly slowing the progression of myopia, improving awareness of the importance of regular eye examinations, and compliance with spectacle wear.
“Messages have been designed for one-way SMS [text] but also can be used in other messaging modalities such as WhatsApp and WeChat and also social media. The message libraries also contain some multimedia suggestions. Individuals who sign up for the program would receive messages over a six- to 12-month period in line with the fact that this amount of time is needed for behavior change.”
Click here to access the toolkit, and click here for the message libraries. To view the webinar after March 15, 2022, click here.