World Sight Day (WSD), a global event which falls on the second Thursday of October, every year, has been launched in Accra.
WSD was set aside by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) as an annual day of awareness creation where the world’s attention will be focused on global blindness and visual impairment as a major international public health issue.
WSD also aims to influence government and Ministers of Health to participate in and designate funds for their National Blindness Prevention Programmes, and educate target audience about blindness prevention.
The theme for this year’s WSD is ‘Universal Eye Health’ which has been in use since 2014 and is set to continue until 2019 where the objectives of the Global Action Plan are expected to have been achieved.
In an address at the launch, yesterday, the Acting Head of the Eye Care Unit of the Ghana Health Service, Dr James Addy, noted that blindness and visuals impairment were major public health issues that needed to be addressed with urgency.
Dr Addy said the call to action this year, ‘Stronger Together’ was intended to mobilize all stakeholders – ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians, donors, patients and ophthalmic nurses for the successful delivery of eye care.
Dr Addy cited the Ghana Blindness and Visual Impairment Study (GBVIS), which put the prevalence rate of blindness in Ghana at 0.74 %, implying that over 190,000 were blind in Ghana.
He said, according to GBVIS, the occurrence of blindness amongst people aged 50 years and above was 4.0 % and 19. 12 % for those aged 80 years and above, adding that males were more affected than females.
He said, according to GBVIS, four out of five blind Ghanaians got blind from causes which could have been avoided such as cataract, glaucoma and diabetes.
For the people who were blind from cataract, Dr Addy said, 43% were unaware that it could be treated by surgery.
He indicated that the major cause of low vision was refractive errors, adding, however, that only 5% of those affected by refractive error and who needed to wear spectacles in Ghana, were using their glasses.
He disclosed that Ghana had only one thousand one hundred and seventeen(1,117) eye care professionals for the over 28 million people, ninety-seven (97) ophthalmologists, five hundred (500) eye nurses, three hundred and twenty (320), optometrists and two hundred (200) opticians.
These numbers, Dr Addy said, were grossly inadequate for the task of offering cataract surgeries, glaucoma management, low vision, diabetic retinopathy screening, and pediatric ophthalmology in the Teaching, Regional and District Hospitals
He gave the assurance that blinding Trachoma and Onchocerciasis were on the verge of being eliminated in Ghana.
Source: Government of Ghana.