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GHS Cries Over Inadequate Eye Doctors

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The Head of Eye Care at the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr James Addy has expressed great worry over the scarcity of eye care specialists in the country.

According to him, the lack of adequate eye care specialists is affecting eye care services in the country.

He said with 0.74 per cent of the country’s population already blind and about 1.74 per cent on the verge of losing their eye sight, there is the need for more eye care specialists to avert the situation.

Dr Addy made this disclosure at the Launch of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)― Seeing is Believing (SiB) Capacity Building for Ophthalmic Nurses in Accra, Yesterday.

“We don’t have adequate eye doctors or optometrists to check our eyes, we don’t have adequate nurses at all and we need them in every district… we need to have the right number and right distribution,” said.

Dr Addy further expressed worry over the shortfall of equipment for the work adding that, although they have some machines, they were not enough to combat the evolution of eye diseases.

“Diabetics wasn’t part of our problem but it’s coming up and we need to get fundus camera which is used to take pictures from the back of eye…we need surgical equipment which are very expensive,” he stated.

Ophthalmic Nurses Receive Upgrade

As part of processes to produce adequate and more equipped eye care specialists, the Ophthalmic Nursing School at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital has been selected to receive support to upgrade the school’s curriculum to a Bachelor of Science (BSc) Degree.

This initiative is in collaboration with the Standard Chartered Bank (SCB)―Seeing is Believing (SiB) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

According to the Head of Corporate Affairs and Marketing at SCB, Mrs Asiedua Addae, this programme is to develop the capacity to teach ophthalmic nursing at an enhanced level.

“We are upgrading the programme to a degree programme and some of the faculty members will be sent to Kenya to upgrade themselves in Master’s Programme,” she said.

Mrs Addae added that as part of the initiative, Ophthalmic students   will be involved in exchange programmes with the two other selected nations―Botswana and Kenya.

She however noted that which is pilot study will run for three years.

Stressing on the rationale behind the upgrade, the Director for Advocacy at Operation Eye Sight Universal, Dr Boateng Wiafe said, it will control the attrition of Ophthalmic Nurses.

According to Dr Wiafe, since Ophthalmic Nursing is a diploma course, many of their own were diverting to other fields in order to obtain degrees and receive promotion.

Seeing is Believing (SiB)

SiB is Standard Chartered Bank’s global collaboration to tackle avoidable blindness across their markets.

They fund leading eye care NGOs to help prevent and treat blindness, with all money going directly into sponsoring various projects.

In Ghana, since 2007, Standard Chartered Bank has implemented various phases of the SiB project ranging from the construction of fully equipped eye clinics, research facilities to the training of eye care personnel.

Source: Grace Ablewor Sogbey/ ksogbey@gmail.com

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