General News of Friday, 6 August 2010

Source: GNA

Ghana holds Glaucoma Summit

Accra, Aug. 6, GNA - The Deputy Minister of Health, Mr Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, on Friday said government would deliberate and come out with decisions that would enhance the lives of glaucoma patients.

The Glaucoma Association of Ghana, he said, had drawn the government's attention to the high cost of medication and equipment needed for treating and managing the disease and urged all to subscribe to the National Health Insurance Scheme to improve access to health care.

Speaking at the 2010 World Glaucoma Summit in Accra under the theme: "Glaucoma in Africa" he described the disease as a silent killer or the sneak thief of sight.

He said being visually impaired was a tragedy and noted that it was important for people to take advantage of the free eye screening during the glaucoma week celebration to ensure early detection and treatment.

Glaucoma occurs when the intra ocular pressure has been raised over a period causing damage to the optic nerve with corresponding loss of visual function. Untreated glaucoma results in blindness because of the irreversible damage it causes.

Organised by the World Glaucoma Association (WGA), the two-day summit being attended by 40 experts is to enhance recognition, education and management of Glaucoma in Africa.

The National President of Glaucoma Association of Ghana, Mr Harrison Abutiate, said another important goal was to set up an efficient communication system between international Glaucoma organisations, academic programmes, specialists, industry, NGO's and African colleagues.

He said there would be active discussions among experts in and out of Africa, frontal lectures and courses would hopefully be translated into practical steps to improve Glaucoma management in the continent.

Dr (Mrs) Edith Dogbe, President of Ophthalmologist Society of Ghana, said management of glaucoma was left in the hands of ophthalmologists in developing countries and expressed worry about late presentation of the cases.

She said some of the challenges were lack of affordable medication, equipment, lack of resources, capacity and called for funds to sustain an all year round awareness creation for the disease.

Dr Dogbe said 8.5 per cent of the above 40 years population and 7.7 per cent of the above 30 years group were affected by glaucoma.

About 37 million people are affected by glaucoma world-wide with over 600,000 people in Ghana.

Glaucoma is hereditary and can affect children but mostly affect people 30 years and above.

About 15 per cent of blind cases could be prevented and 20 per cent partially treatable.