Two hundred and forty thousand Ghanaians, representing one per cent of the population, are totally blind.
It is estimated that 80 per cent of the blindness could have been avoided, the Director of Eye Care of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Oscar Debrah, has said.
He made this known at the launch of this year’s World Sight Day in Accra Thursday.
It was on the theme, “Universal Eye Health”.
The event was organised by the GHS, in conjunction with the Standard Chartered Bank, Vision 2020, Seeing is Believing and other partners.
The leading causes of blindness in Ghana are cataract, trachoma and glaucoma.
Globally, approximately 285 million people have either low vision or are completely blind.
Ninety per cent of blind people live in low-income countries, including Ghana.
Ghana has only 74 eye specialists
Speaking at the ceremony, Dr Debrah said although the restoration of sight and blindness prevention strategies were among the most cost-efficient interventions in health care, one person went blind every five seconds across the world.
In Ghana, he said, there was the need to give more attention to eye health, as the country had only 74 eye specialists, majority of whom are based in Accra and Kumasi.
He said there was only one eye specialist each in the Volta, Upper East and Northern regions, with two each in the Central and Western regions.
The Upper West Region, according to him, has no eye specialist.
The situation was worrying, as Ghana had one of the highest prevalence of glaucoma in the world, Dr Debrah said.
An estimated 700,000 Ghanaians are currently living with glaucoma, which is the major cause of irreversible blindness worldwide.
Out of the number, 60,000 have already gone permanently blind.
The Minister of Health, Dr Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah, whose speech was read on his behalf by the Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the GHS, Mr George Kumi Kyeremeh, said the attainment of universal eye health required the collective responsibility of all.
He pledged the ministry’s support to eye health but called on people to also ensure that they checked their eyesight regularly.
The West Africa Regional Head of Corporate Affairs of the Standard Chartered Bank, Nii Okai Nunoo, said the bank had, since 2007, committed GH¢4.5 million to eye care delivery in the country.
He said the bank, under its project, “Seeing is believing”, had targeted 13.8 million Ghanaians for the provision of eye care services by 2015.
The Regional Director, Operation Eyesight Universal, Dr Boateng Wiafe, who chaired the ceremony, called on other corporate organisations to support eye care in the country.
Source: Daily Graphic
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