Ghana Health Service holds media training on eye care reporting

Dr Oscar Debrah, Head of the Eye Care Unit of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), on Thursday appealed to the public to endeavour to at least visit a health facility once each year for eye checkups.

This, he said, would help in early detection of eye diseases such as Glaucoma, cataract and trachoma, which are preventable through simple treatment schemes like drug treatment and simple surgery.

He noted that although 75 percent of blindness were needless and could be prevented, lack of awareness, personal and political commitments and funding to support treatment and care, had contributed to the rising number of blindness in the country.

In Ghana, it is estimated there are 240,000 blind and the problem is envisaged to be very serious in Sub-Saharan Africa, as an estimated number of 27 million, have been found to be visually impaired, and 6.8 million totally blind.

Dr Debrah was speaking at a media training workshop on eye care reporting to give journalists an overview of the eye health situation in the country and also an insight as to how to report on eye health issues.

The training, which was organized by the Eye Care Unit of the GHS, was also part of activities to commemorate the World Sight Day that falls on the second Thursday of October each year. It will be launched on Thursday, October 11 at Ho in the Volta Region.

Dr Debrah explained that the commemoration each year was to raise greater awareness of the fact that a large number of blindness could be prevented or treated and further encouraged all governments, organizations and individuals to invest in the prevention of global blindness.

It was also to educate target audiences about blindness prevention and generate support for programme activities.

Dr Debrah stressed that it had become critical to raise public awareness of preventable eye diseases, which accounted for an estimated figure of 39 million of blindness globally.

Apart from this figure it is also estimated that 245 million severe visual impairment 153 are already visually impaired because of uncorrected refractive errors, while 517 million more are severely affected by presbyopia, which is as a result of aging (from age 40).

He mentioned some of the risk factors of visual impairment as ageing, gender, which is females, have higher risk than male, probably due to longer life span and poorer access to service; socio-economic status as well as other factors such as tobacco use, exposure to Ultra violence radiation, Vitamin “A” deficiency and diabetes.

Dr Debrah indicated that blindness prevention was a step towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals in terms of poverty reduction, universal primary education, reducing childhood mortality, improving maternal health and combating chronic and life threatening diseases.

Dr Debrah noted that it was important that blindness be tackled from a public health and socio-economic perspective stressing on its devastating implications on families and also on the national purse.

Source: GNA

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