The Deputy Minister for Health, Hon. Tina Mensah has launched the 2019 World Glaucoma Week celebration in Accra, with a call on Ghanaians to have their eyes tested for glaucoma, to save their sight.
She said glaucoma continues to be second to cataract as the cause of blindness in the world, but the number one cause of irreversible blindness in the world. Globally, people living with glaucoma exceed 70 million and those blind from glaucoma is over 6 million.
The situation in Ghana, she noted, was not different since over 700,000 Ghanaians live with glaucoma and 60,000 are blind from the condition. “The figure is growing yearly and it is estimated that by the year 2020, as much as 900,000 Ghanaians will be living with glaucoma and more would have become blind from the condition”, she added.
The Ministry, Hon. Mensah said, will continue to play a key role in the fight against the disease to ensure that citizens do not lose their sight needlessly when all they require was to undergo simple screening to either undergo medical or surgical treatment to save their sight.
The Deputy Minister appealed to all eyecare facilities in the country to open their doors to the public for free eye screening so that other eye conditions can also be screened and referred to appropriate specialists.
She revealed that consultation on an implementation framework was underway to strengthen eye care at the Primary Health Care level (PHC). The framework, she said, proposes a set of levers in terms of governance, policy and finance. Operational levers such as community engagements, engagement with Private Sector providers, digital technologies that are critical for effectiveness, efficiency, accountability, research and knowledge management, and monitoring and evaluation are also part of the framework.
She assured the public of her government’s support and leadership and urged the media, financial institutions, insurance companies, oil and gas companies and individuals to support the awareness creation efforts of Glaucoma Patients Association of Ghana as their contribution to the prevention of loss of sight through glaucoma.
The President of the Glaucoma Patients Association (GPAG), Mr Harrison Abutiate, appealed to the government to exempt glaucoma medications from taxes and include effective glaucoma drugs on the National Standard Drugs list. He called on the media to help in the fight against glaucoma through awareness creation.
Dr Naa Naamuah Tagoe, a consultant ophthalmologist at the Korle Bu Eye Clinic, said findings from a recent national blindness survey conducted in Ghana shows that over 19 per cent of blindness in Ghana was due to glaucoma. “This translates to about one in five cases of blindness being attributed to glaucoma”, she said and advised the public to have regular eye tests.
Source: MoH (PR Unit)