About 300,000 Ghanaians are at risk of going blind, the Director of Institutional Care Division of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Samuel Kaba Akoriyea, has disclosed.
According to him, already about 200,000 individuals have gone totally blind with cataract being the leading cause.
Dr Kaba Akorieya revealed this yesterday at the official launch of the National Cataract Outreach Programme (NACOP) in the Eastern Region.
He said the NACOP will be carried out throughout the country and that its purpose will be to screen for cataract cases in the wider population and perform surgeries on those diagnosed with the condition with the aim of “restoring their sights to enable them live normal lives and contribute to national development.”
He said that GHS had entered into an agreement with the Himalayan Cataract Project of the USA to fund the NACOP, which is aimed at helping to reduce the deficit by performing 30,000 cataract surgeries on patients annually by 2020.
The prevalence rate of blindness in the country is at 7.4 per thousand, representing 207,200 people living with total blindness while severe visual impairment is 10.7 per thousand representing 299,600 people currently living with visual impairment in Ghana.
“There’s no need for our countrymen and women to go blind with cataract. That’s why this programme has been put in place to screen people, diagnose them and perform surgeries to restore their lives,” Dr Kaba Akorieya said at the NACOP launch.
Former Head of the Eye Care Unit of the GHS, now the Country Representative of Himalayan Cataract Project, Dr Oscar Debrah, blamed the GHS for failing to release funds for the project.
“If funds come for us to undertake the outreach and for eight weeks the funds will be sitting at the headquarters and do not go to the institutions where we need to do the surgeries it demoralizes everybody,” he asserted.
“The message should go that the funds come so that patients will access to cataract surgeries and if for eight weeks, nine weeks we can’t send the monies from just Accra to maybe Brekum, Amasaman, I particular I’m very sad, and I think that we need to speed up processes so that we can continue to deliver the services,” he added.
About 40,000 cataract surgeries are required to be conducted yearly among Ghanaians, the Head of the Eye Care Unit of the GHS Dr James Addy stated recently.
He further noted that “Ghana is about 15,000 to 16,000 cataract surgeries far below the set target due to many challenges”.