This review explores the role of health promotion in the prevention of avoidable blindness in developing countries. Using examples from eye health and other health topics from developing countries, the review demonstrates that effective eye health promotion involves a combination of three components: health education directed at behaviour change to increase adoption of prevention behaviours and uptake of services; improvements in health services such as the strengthening of patient education and increased accessibility and acceptability; and advocacy for improved political support for blindness prevention policies. Current eye health promotion activities can benefit by drawing on experiences gained by health promotion activities in other health topics especially on the use of social research and behavioural models to understand factors determining health decision making and the appropriate choice of methods and settings. The challenge ahead is to put into practice what we know does work. An expansion of advocacy—the third and most undeveloped component of health promotion—is essential to convince governments to channel increased resources to eye health promotion and the goals of Vision 2020.
- eye health
- developing countries
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Competing interests: none declared
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