By Nombuso Dlamini
Senior Lecturer in Optometry at UKZN, Dr Vanessa Moodley received the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) Health Merit Award at the organisation’s inaugural national conference on 19 August at Emperor’s Palace, Johannesburg.
The award recognises outstanding performance by individual practitioners. Moodley was nominated by the Professional Board: Optometry and Dispensing Opticians (PBODO).
‘I have always been passionate about the development of my profession. I am motivated by the stark reality that the majority of poor South Africans have no access to eye care services and there is a high prevalence of preventable blindness. There is so much more we can do to help,’ she said.
She added that it was an honour to have been elected to serve for two terms as the Chairperson of the PBODO and as Chairperson of the HPCSA’s Undesirable Business Practice Committee and a member of the Professional Conduct Review Committee.
‘It is humbling to have been nominated by the profession for this distinguished award. I am grateful to all the senior colleagues who shared their experience and wisdom, those who worked alongside me and others whom I had the privilege to lead and mentor,’ she said.
Moodley has contributed significantly to the development of optometric education and service. When she was appointed the Chair of the PBODO in 2004, optometric services were few and far between, optometry curricula were inappropriate and there was minimal stakeholder engagement.
Under her leadership, national outcome competencies for optometry education were redefined, the scope of practice was expanded to meet the needs of the population and the board embarked on extensive lobbying for more optometrists to be employed in the public sector.
Having completed a PhD in Social Accountability in Optometric Education, she also facilitated improved education programmes through the development of detailed programme accreditation criteria for the regulatory authority.
The inaugural HPCSA conference provided an opportunity for delegates across all health sectors, health regulators, policy makers, academics and service providers amongst others; to engage on regulatory matters pertaining to the healthcare environment, including changing global and local healthcare trends.
Moodley holds a Bachelor of Optometry and Master of Optometry (cum laude), from the former University of Durban-Westville (now UKZN) and a PhD from the Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland. She completed the Advanced Study in Ocular Diseases and Pharmaceutical Application and Neurology from the New England College of Optometry in Boston, USA. Since stepping down as chairperson of the Professional Board in South Africa, she serves on the Legislation and Regulation Committee of the World Council for Optometry.