Day Sight

Dr. James Addy, Head of Eye Care Unit of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has underlined the urgent need to up the national blindness prevention effort.

He said more should be done to help save the sight of many with serious eye problems.

In excess of 207, 000 Ghanaians are blind, representing 0.74 per cent of the population, with about 299,600 others suffering from severe eye impairment.

Dr. Addy was speaking at a ceremony held in Ejisu, under the theme “Universal eye health – make vision count”, to mark this year’s World Sight Day.

It coincided with the launch of a US$400,000 project to improve eye care services in four selected Ashanti districts.

The project, a joint initiative of Standard Chartered Bank and Orbis Africa, has been dubbed “Seeing is Believing” (SiB), and being implemented in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipality, Bosomtwe, Atwima-Kwanwoma, and Afigya-Kwabre Districts.

It involves among other things, training and building the capacity of eye care providers, eye screening of school children and awareness creation.

Dr. Addy indicated that about 79 per cent of blindness in the country was avoidable.

He identified cataract as the leading cause of the sight loss, accounting for 54.8 per cent with glaucoma coming next and representing about 19.4 per cent.

He complained about inadequate eye care professionals, saying, there were just 1,275 of them – 91 ophthalmologists, 370 optometrists, 500 ophthalmic nurses and 314 opticians serving a population of over 28 million.

There was also the added problem of unfair distribution of these professionals with 70 out of the 91 ophthalmologists serving in Greater Accra and Ashanti alone and the remaining 21 spread across the eight regions.

He spoke of plans to build the capacity of ophthalmic nursing schools to offer Bachelor in Ophthalmic Nursing programme and integrate primary eye care into primary health centres, including the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds.

The GHS, he added, was also to start a national cataract outreach programme and screening of diabetic and sickle cell patients for eye diseases.

Dr. Samuel Kaba, Director, Institutional Care Division (ICD) of the GHS, asked that particular attention was paid to eye-related diseases among children.

Mrs. Mansa Nettey, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Standard Chartered Bank, said the SiB project would bring comprehensive eye care to people in deprived communities.

Under it, CHPs compounds would be aided to provide eye care services and deepen public education.

Dr. Maria Hagan, Country Representative for Orbis, said the goal was to strengthen existing health care system – from the primary level through to the referral facilities.

Source: GNA/NewsGhana.com.gh

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