Residents in the Northern region, particularly those from deprived communities, are to benefit from a free medical screening for glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a disease that affects the nerves of the eye, which can lead to permanent blindness.
The symptoms of glaucoma are not always immediately noticeable, so it is important to get regular eye exams.
Ghana is ranked number one in Africa and number two in the world for glaucoma prevalence.
To help raise awareness of the importance of early detection and treatment, GBO Ghana, a non-governmental organization, is offering free glaucoma screenings in the Northern region.
The screenings began on the first day in three communities: Malshegu, Bamvim, and Sheishigu. The target population is the elderly, and thirteen people have already been diagnosed with glaucoma.
GBO Ghana is partnering with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to help ensure that residents can continue to access treatment after the project ends.
Alhaji Shafiu Shaibu, the Executive Director of GBO Ghana, spoke about the importance of the screenings.
“Our focus has been on health, and we run outreach programs to improve clinics, support deprived communities, and provide individuals with further treatment.
“We recently started working in Northern Ghana with Vibrant Village Foundation, and we are focusing on glaucoma. Ghana has the highest prevalence of glaucoma in Africa and the second-highest in the world. This is because glaucoma often goes undetected. It is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness overall, but they can be cured with surgery. Glaucoma damages the nerves that transmit images from the eye to the brain, and once these nerves are damaged, they cannot be repaired. This is why glaucoma is so dangerous. You don’t know you have it until it’s too late. The only way to know is to get regular eye exams.”
The screenings are being offered in deprived communities because these communities often lack access to healthcare. Alhaji Shafiu explained that the project is also in partnership with the NHIS because they want to empower residents to continue accessing treatment after the project ends.
“The NHIS is one of our key partners in this outreach program. We decided that we would not provide services to anyone who does not have a valid NHIS card. We want to empower people, not just help them. So we go to the venue with the NHIS, they set up a clinic, and if you come to us and don’t have a card, we direct you to get one. If you are a child, we will pay for you, but an adult must pay for themselves. The reason is simple: we want them to be able to continue accessing treatment after we leave.”
Some of the beneficiaries expressed their gratitude to the organizers for the screenings, saying that they have brought relief.
“We are happy that the people have come to check on our health. I have always complained that my eyes are not seeing properly, but I didn’t know what to do. Today, I have been screened and I now know the problem.”
“I am happy and I want to extend my sincere thanks to the organizers. I now know that I am free of the disease. Some people have been diagnosed, and they have promised them treatment. We thank God for that.”
“My problem is my NHIS card. It has expired, but now I will renew it. I used to think that the card didn’t work, and that’s why I didn’t want to waste my money renewing it. But after this exercise today, I will renew my card so that I can continue to receive medical attention.”