An eye specialist, Dr Thomas Tontie Baah, has appealed to the government to increase the GH¢350 it pays for cataract surgery under the National Health Insurance Scheme to expand access to surgery.
He says many health facilities view the GH¢350 as “low” and so are unwilling to accept it and offer cataract treatment to patients and that those who accept the amount find other ways to supplement it.
Dr Baah explained that between 2007 and 2008 the National Health Insurance Authority paid GH¢101.4 for the cost of cataract surgery, when one Ghana cedi was equivalent to one dollar, meaning the state was paying $100 initially.
Even if prices of items needed for the surgery in dollar terms have not changed, with the depreciation of the cedi over the years, with the Ghanaian currency now going for GH¢9.02 to a dollar, it is more than obvious $100 should be at least GH¢900.
This means the GH¢350 currently being paid is woefully inadequate and really has to be increased to, at least, ease the pressure on health facilities which currently accept the amount and seek other ways to supplement it to assist patients enjoy their services.
The Ghanaian Times is arguing this way in support of Dr Baah, because as the Medical Director of the Save the Nation’s Sight Clinic in Accra, he is making the appeal from the expert’s point of view.
Even though Dr Baah himself did not mention it, the Ghanaian Times can say that if nothing is done, it would not be long and even those making do with the GH¢350 would cease accepting it and that would spell doom for cataract patients.
The paper is convinced about that point because of studies that prove the link between poverty and poor eye health, such as the one published by the Research Gate titled Poverty and Eye Health published online on July 5, 2022 and another by the National Library Medicine put online on December 16, 2008 titled ‘Poverty and Cataract: A Look At A Complex Issue’.
The point is that the eye is a significant endowment of life because of its obvious significance.
There is no doubt that even completely blind people are doing well in life, but loss of sight is a predicament no one cherishes, especially when you have once seen.
Poverty itself is hell and so if due to it, a poor person is unable to access treatment for cataract and loses the sight, we all can imagine how miserable life would be for such a person.
All disabilities are undesirable but we can make do with some of the situations albeit not easily with loss of eyesight.
Therefore, let the government heed the appeal from Dr Baah, the eye specialist, to make life a bit bearable and enjoyable for cataract patients.
With that said, the Ghanaian Times commends Dr Baah, the team at his clinic, other medical professionals and their partners like the Ghana Association of former International Civil Servants for all their efforts in saving sights for the benefit of the individual and the whole country.