About 50,000 Ghanaians are blind from Glaucoma – Health Minister

An estimated 50,000 Ghanaians are blind from Glaucoma and 600,000 others suffering from the debilitating eye disease which causes blindness.

Another 250,000 people who did not know they have the disease were likely to go blind if it was left untreated.

This was disclosed by Mr Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, Deputy Minister of Health, in a speech read on his behalf at the launch of this year’s World Glaucoma Awareness Week organised by the Glaucoma Association of Ghana (GAG) in collaboration with other stakeholders.

The World Glaucoma Day falls on March 12, each year and the theme for 2012 is “Do Not Let Glaucoma Darken Your Life”.

Glaucoma is a condition in which the fluid pressure inside the eye becomes too high, causing damage to the optic nerve. If left untreated, vision around the edge of the eye becomes increasingly restricted, narrowing the field of vision, eventually, total blindness can occur.

However, if detected early enough, the damaging effects of the disease could be treated with various drugs.

Laser or conventional surgery can often relieve pressure and prevent further sight loss.

Mr Mettle-Nunoo said the Ministry provided GH¢10,000 every year to strengthen Glaucoma awareness creation, adding that the fund would be increased when the Ministry’s resources increased in future.

He said the Ministry would consider request of the association for inclusion of more anti-Glaucoma drugs on the National Health Insurance Drug List, reduce duties on drugs and also provide the association with a two room permanent office facility to enable it increase its advocacy activities and awareness creation to prevent blindness in Ghana.

“Statistics continue to increase due to lack of awareness and delay in screening adding that it was a drain on the economy, through the huge cost of drugs an surgery,” he added.

Last year, the Ministry of Health increased intake into the Ophthalmic Nursing Training School to produce more eye nurses who are pegged with degree holders and paid accordingly to motivate nurses to enrolled.

The President of Glaucoma Association of Ghana (GAG), Mr Harrison Kofi Abutiate, indicated that too many people were going blind unnecessarily; pointing out that it behoved the association to endeavour to prevent blindness and restore sight.

He bemoaned the establishment of unqualified players in the field who put up make shift tent at various parts of the country especially at lorry parks to screen patients and sell drugs and glasses to them and called for their activities to be stopped because they were doing more harm than good.

Source: GNA

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