Original Research

Eye health promotion-oriented policy statements in various national and provincial health policy documents in South Africa

Hlupheka L. Sithole
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 81, No 1 | a597 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v81i1.597 | © 2022 Hlupheka Lawrence Sithole | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 July 2020 | Published: 12 January 2022

About the author(s)

Hlupheka L. Sithole, Department of Optometry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: There are many fragmented public health policies that give directives towards various aspects of healthcare needs and implementation. However, none of these policies make specific reference to eye health promotion (EHP) as an enabler for individuals to take control of the determinants of their eye health (EH) needs.

Aim: The current study sought to identify EHP messages in the various available policy documents at both national and provincial health department levels with a view to assessing awareness on the available gaps for the development of an integrated EHP policy in South Africa.

Setting: The study used documents provided by the National Department of Health and those that were available online from various other provincial Departments of Health in the country.

Methods: Content analysis of EH policies requested from the Directorate of Chronic Diseases, Disabilities and Geriatrics was conducted. Various other health policies that were enacted post-1994 and endorsed by the National and Provincial Departments of Health were also considered for analysis.

Results: Twenty-four documents were considered for content analysis. The national guidelines on eye healthcare made reference to EH activities such as immunisation of children, vision screening of the elderly, vitamin A supplementation and maternal services to detect sexually transmitted diseases, amongst others. Of the 20 national and provincial health documents analysed, only four made reference to EH. None of these documents made any specific reference to EHP.

Conclusion: Although four national guidelines contain content related to EHP, the fragmentation and lack of integration with other health policy documents may lead to eye healthcare messages not being prioritised for dissemination even where they are highly required. Also, public eye healthcare services in general will continue to lag behind as is the case in most provinces in South Africa.


Keywords

eye health promotion; eye healthcare policy; integration of eye healthcare policies; health promotion messages; national eye health guidelines

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