Lesson 4: Differences – national and district planning

This lesson is adapted from The National Eye Health Coordinator Manual.
International Agency for Prevention of Blindness, 2011.

National vs district level in VISION 2020

It is important to make the distinction between a VISION 2020 national plan and a VISION 2020 district plan.

National planning has several purposes. It:

  • Helps to solidify the commitment made by the Ministry of Health towards the prevention of blindness
  • Provides an opportunity to gather the stakeholders and develop a consensus on the priorities for the prevention of blindness in the country
  • Supports the development of collaborative relationships amongst stakeholders.

In contrast, a VISION 2020 district plan addresses the implementation of an eye care programme in an administrative area of between about 0.5 and 2 million population. Such units may have a variety of names in different countries, for example, regions, provinces, subdistricts or districts.

National planning

National planning must be open and transparent. Excluding certain people or organisations may cause resentment and the loss of valuable input. Nonetheless, national planning is often best organised by getting a small group of very experienced people together to make the first draft which can be sent around to a wider group of people for comment.

By the time of the national planning meeting, the draft should be virtually finished and most people coming to the meeting should already have provided their input. It is very helpful to have an external facilitator at the meeting who is an expert on VISION 2020 and planning.

District planning

District planning is organised differently in national planning. Much of the writing of the district plan is done during the planning session, using information collected ahead of time. The planning session should follow these basic steps:

  • Review the current situation
  • Discuss practical and desirable targets that will, with time, enable the team to reach their VISION 2020 goal
  • Set 3-4 targets for service delivery. For each target decide on the specific activities needed to achieve the target
  • Determine who will be responsible for each activity and when it will be done.

Pre-planning activities are essential

All planning, whether at the national or district level, start by considering the current situation. It is essential to devote sufficient time to pre-planning. Meeting to plan without having baseline evidence and information to hand is a waste of everyone’s time.