Cataract is leading cause of blindness in Ghana – GHS

Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare,Director-General,GHS

Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare,Director-General,GHS

More than 207,200 Ghanaians are completely blind with cataract being the leading cause of the disease, Dr Samuel Kaba Akoriyea, Director of Institutional Care Division of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has revealed.
Dr Akoriyea, who expressed worry over the situation, added that cataract was leading with it prevalence rate of 54.8 per cent, representing about 111,888 Ghanaians who were living with the eye condition.
He, therefore, called on stakeholders to help educate the public about the disease to reduce the number of cases, and also intensify efforts to eradicate the eye illness completely from the country.
Dr Akoriyea was speaking here at the launch of the National Cataract Outreach Programme organised by the GHS, aimed at reducing eye defects in the country.
The programme brought together scores of people who went through a free cataract surgery, courtesy the Himalayan Cataract Project.
Dr Akoiyea mentioned glaucoma with its prevalence rate of 19.4 per cent, representing 40,198 blind people, diabetic retinopathy prevalence (93,000) and vision threatening diabetic retinopathy prevalence (27,000) as other causes of the blindness.
He said unfortunately, primary eye health was frequently lacking, under-developed and not effectively integrated with primary health care in low income countries, including Ghana, adding that eye care was often delivered at the secondary and tertiary hospitals.
That, he said, had increased the cost to patients and health system, “causing them to stay away till their eye illness got serious, hence the high number of people with the eye illness.”
“It is for this reason we are embarking on this outreach to extend the services to their doorstep, especially to the less privileged”, he said, disclosing that his outfit needed to do about 40,000 each year to clear the backlog.
Dr Akoriyea stated that even though a lot had been done to tackle the situation, there was still more to do to ensure a healthy population with universal coverage and a healthy population for national development.
He lauded stakeholders in the health sectors for helping the country to receive a WHO certification of free of trachoma, calling on them to ensure same for cataract.
Dr Antony Nsiah-Asare, Director General of the GHS, revealed in a speech read on his behalf that, about 299,600 people were also living with severe visual impairment, which was worrying, and added that if the country was able to reduce cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy “then we will be doing justice to more than 86.5 per cent of the causes of blindness.”
Dr Albert Antobre-Boateng, acting Director of the GHS in the Eastern Region, called on the public to desist from smoking and excessive drinking, do regular eye examination and take healthy diet, among others, to help prevent such eye diseases.
Mr Oscar Debrah, Country Director for the Himalayan Cataract Project, expressed worry over funds allocated for cataract project, revealing that “these monies were not sent to institutions assigned for it”, because the processes which would ensure that these monies reached the assigned institutions were not expedited.

From Ama Tekyiwaa Ampadu Agyeman

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