40,000 For Cataract Operations

From left: Dr Hagan, ex-Programme Manager for Eye Care, GHS, Dr James Addy and Dr Samuel Kaba at the event

Ghana needs to conduct 40,000 cataract surgeries in the next two years in order to clear the backlog of people who need surgeries to gain back their sight after suffering from cataract.

According to Dr James Addy, Programme Manager for Eye Care, Ghana Health Service (GHS), the country needs to conduct 2,000 cataract surgeries per a million population every year in order to prevent people from getting blind through cataract.

He, however, explained that the health sector is only able to treat just a fraction of the number of people who need surgeries due to logistics and human resource challenges.

“About 200,000 people become blind yearly from cataract which accounts for 54 percent of this blindness which we can correct through surgery,” he stated.

Dr Addy mentioned that globally uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of visual impairment.

He said severe vision impairment (SVI) affects 300,000 people annually, with 526,400 suffering from mild vision impairment (MVI).

Avoidable Blindness

He said glaucoma is the second highest cause of blindness in Ghana accounting for over 19 percent of blindness, followed by post segment disease (diabetic retinopathy) with 12.3 percent and cornea-related diseases with 11.2 percent.

Dr Addy, speaking at the media engagement on World Sight Day in Accra, indicated that 79 percent of blindness which occur in Ghana are from avoidable causes.

“This means four out of five Ghanaians who get blind could either be treated or prevented by known, cost-effective means,” he said.

He added that the restorations of sight and blindness prevention strategies are among the most cost-effective interventions in healthcare.

World Sight Day

The global event which falls on the second Thursdays in October and for this year October 12, 2017, is day of awareness creation on preventable blindness.

The focus is on global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment as a public health problem themed:            ‘universal eye health with a call to action being #make vision count’.

The day is also to ensure that all people have access to needed promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services of sufficient QUALITY to be effective, while also ensuring that people do not suffer financial hardships when paying for these services.

National Activities

Dr Samuel Kaba, Head of Institutional Care Division, GHS, explained that there will be a national cataract outreach programme to reduce the backlog of cases with support from private sector.

“There will also be an integration of screening of diabetics at all the ten regional diabetic clinics by the eye care professionals of the various eye clinics in the regional hospitals,” he added.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri