Today, October 14, 2021 is being marked across the world as World Sight Day under the theme ‘Love Your Eyes.’
An international non-governmental organization that works to prevent avoidable blindness, Sightsavers, is calling on all stakeholders to invest heavily into the provision of quality eye care in the country.
The organization, in a statement to commemorate the day said without a strong and continued effort by all to improve eye health services, millions of people across the world including Ghana will lose their sight unnecessarily.
“The number of people in need of eye care around the world is increasing dramatically. Without intervention the number of people who are blind globally could triple to around 115 million people by 2050. We are in an eye health crisis, but it is not a subject that gets the attention it deserves,” said David Agyemang, a Senior Programme Manager of Sightsavers’ Ghana Country Office.
The World Health Organization estimates that at least 2.2. billion people across the world have a visual impairment.
It notes that majority of these conditions were avoidable and treatable.
According to Dr. Sunday Isiyaku, Country Director of Sightsavers Ghana Country office, “Access to quality eye care has a hugely positive impact on all areas of people’s lives. It can increase people’s ability to learn and work, which can directly lead to reductions in poverty and hunger and improve well-being.”
According to Ghana’s 2015 blindness and visual impairment study, 0.7% of Ghanaians are blind. The prevalence of blindness is higher in the rural areas of Ghana (0.79) than in the urban areas (0.67). One disturbing finding was that uptake of glasses by Ghanaians who were identified to have refractive error is as low as 5%. More than half (54.8%) of blindness in Ghana were due to Cataract. The government of Ghana and its partners are doing their best to prevent people from going blind from Cataract. So far in 2021, 5664 surgeries have been conducted.
Dr James Addy, the Head of Eye Care, Ghana Health Service says, “In 2021 alone, we have conducted 5,664 cataract surgeries. We need to make sure everyone, everywhere can access the eye health services they need. Every single one of us has a part to play in making it happen, from the government to healthcare workers, to donors, supporters, and individuals.”
Sightsavers’ call is part of a World Sight Day campaign, ‘Everyone Counts’, by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). It aims to focus attention on the global issue of eye health.
Since 1950, Sightsavers has collaborated with ministries of health and partners in over 30 countries to eliminate avoidable blindness.