By Ambrose Gahene
Mubende – The Ministry of Health has launched Mubende Eye Health Project under the campaign “Seeing is Believing” aimed to reduce the prevalence of avoidable visual impairment. The 4-year comprehensive eye care project was launched in the four districts of Mubende, Mityana, Kyankwanzi and Kiboga.During the launch, Minister of State for Health for General Duties, Hon. Sarah Opendi highlighted that the project is in line with Vision 2020 initiative “The Right to Sight” which aims at eliminating the major causes of avoidable blindness by 2020.
“This project will deliver comprehensive eye health comprising of promoting, preventing, cure and rehabilitating services in Mubende Health Region” Hon. Opendi said. Services will be delivered through the schools screening program and children identified with vision problems will be referred to the nearest health facility.
Hon. Opendi further adds that blindness is one of the major disabilities Ugandans experience. “There are many causes of blindness and visual impairment such as cataracts, uncorrected refractive errors, diabetic retinopathy, Vitamin A deficiency, Trachoma and Glaucoma” she noted.
According to Population and Housing census 2014, 12.4 per cent of Ugandans aged 2 years and above are disabled with visual impairment contributing to 6.4 per cent of the disabilities. Studies have estimated that eye diseases are among the top 10 causes of morbidity in Uganda. “This makes eye care one of the major concerns of Ministry of Health and the country at large” Hon. Opendi said.
This project aims to improve access to high quality comprehensive eye care services that are integrated into the national health systems while delivering eye health services to adults and children in Mubende Health region.
The Ministry of Health acknowledged support from Standard Chartered Bank, Brien Holden Vision Institute and other Development Partners for their contribution towards improving eye care and health of Ugandans in general.
The director; General Health Services Prof. Anthony K. Mbonye says; the provision of eye care services in Uganda has been ongoing without a standardized guide at the different levels of service provision that documents step by step; management of the eye conditions in Uganda. “In view of the call by World Health Organization and International Agency for Prevention of Blindness as enshrined in the Global Action Plan for Eye Health, 2014-2019 to ensure standardized management of eye conditions, it was imperative that the Ministry of Health in collaboration with Eye Care Development Partners develop these Eye Health guidelines”, says Dr Mbonye.
He further says; the guidelines have been developed to provide easy to use practical, complete and useful information for correct diagnosis and management of seventeen common eye conditions in Uganda, thereby complementing the Uganda clinical guidelines.
“Proper utilization of these guidelines by Eye Care workers at all levels will enhance quality management of eye diseases, bearing in mind that the eye is a very delicate organ whose care requires clearly defined step by step guidelines. They will also facilitate clinical audits in eye care practice, thereby promoting quality improvement. I call upon all Eye Care workers at all levels to make effective use of the guidelines in their day to day practice as we all strive to prevent visual impairment and blindness in Uganda”, he added.
In the past years,over 120 eye patients in eastern Uganda have received free eye treatment under “Seeing is Believing” programme supported by Standard Chartered Bank in partnership with Sight Savers International.
At the beginning of the treatment exercise at Jinja Hospital , the Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank , Mr David Cutting, said 75 per cent of blindness can either be prevented or reversed because it results from causes that could effectively be treated using known and cost-effective methods.