Dr. Moses Kasadhakawo, senior consultant ophthalmologist at Mulago National Referral Hospital, said that the whole country has only 40 ophthalmologists and few eye clinical officers, who are neither appointed nor promoted over several years.
Medical personnel specializing in the provision of eye care services have called on the government to invest more in eye care services in the country.
Dr. Moses Kasadhakawo, senior consultant ophthalmologist at Mulago National Referral Hospital, said that the whole country has only 40 ophthalmologists and few eye clinical officers, who are neither appointed nor promoted over several years. He adds that many of them end up working as general practitioners, which affects their career development.
He said the country also lacks a training school for ophthalmology nurses, who could have provided support to the few specialists and that the staff responsible for collecting data on eye care problems are not trained in eye care requirements. He is also concerned that eye care services have largely been left to donors, a trend that creates sustainability issues when donor support ceases.
The questions came as Uganda commemorated World Sight Day in Kitgum Municipality on Thursday. The International Day is held annually on the second Thursday of October to draw the world’s attention to the importance of eye health for everyone, everywhere.
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Dr Kasadhakawo said eye care equipment is costly in terms of acquisition and maintenance as they have no spare parts in the country or trained personnel to repair them, while national medical stores do not provide eye care supplies.
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Joyce Ajwang, regional chairperson of ophthalmology clinical officers in Acholi and Lango sub-regions, said that ophthalmology clinical officers in health centers lack facilitation for sensitization activities and medicines to diagnose certain problems. eyepieces. She called on the government to create posts for eye clinical officers at the district level and pay them according to their qualification.
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Health Minister Dr Ruth Aceng, whose speech was read by Dr Charles Olaro, Director of Curative Services at the Ministry of Health, acknowledged the shortage of eye care specialists in the country and observed a need staff training in the discipline which is currently only offered at Makerere and Mbarara universities.
Dr. Aceng also advised people with eye problems to seek help from qualified medical personnel and avoid using herbs. “If you are sick, don’t go to a traditional healer or use traditional medicine because sometimes if they give you the wrong prescription, the problem will get worse.”
Dr Olaro said Kitgum was chosen to host World Sight Day due to unclear data presented by the district, which implied that the district did not need eye care services. However, Kitgum District Health Officer Dr. Henry Okello Otto noted that the district has treated 17,307 different cases of eye problems in the past two fiscal years.
Dr Okello revealed that the top five causes of high morbidity in the district are; Allergic conjunctivitis, bacterial conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers, refractive errors and eye trauma. He added, however, that the number is still low as the health centers do not have eye care units or cadres capable of providing the necessary services.
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Dr Okello suggested that more staff should be trained to deliver eye care services at the primary level, to reduce the burden of eye diseases in the district.
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A 2014 assessment indicates that 0.4% of Ugandans are blind and 2.6 million (6%) Ugandans have difficulty seeing. This year’s World Sight Day was celebrated under the theme; “Love your eyes.”