Ghana: ‘Optometrists in Ghana woefully insufficient’

Ghana: ‘Optometrists in Ghana woefully insufficient’

Ghana News Agency – The Ghana Association of Optometrists (GAO) has expressed serious concern over the increasing number of quack optometrists on the streets, in buses and on social media, who were misleading and worsening eye problems of people.

It had therefore advised the public to visit the hospital for trained personnel to handle their eye problems to avoid the situation where their predicaments would be worsened.

Dr. Paa Kwesi Hope, the Central Regional Chairman of GAO, expressed the sentiments at a symposium organised by the University of Cape Coast (UCC) chapter of the Optometry Students Association of Ghana in collaboration with the Department of Optometry, to commemorate optometry training at UCC.

The symposium formed part of series of activities of the celebration on the theme,”Thirteen years of Optometry Training at UCC: Achievements and Challenges”

He urged optometrists to be patient with each client and uphold high level of professionalism to distinguish themselves from the quacks.

The universities should train students to have confident to handle all issues at the clinics.

Currently there is one optometrist to 62,000 patients with only a handful of the figures operating with the Ghana Health Service (GHS)

He called on the GHS to review the optometry drug list on the National Health Insurance Scheme to include some very essential drugs and also adjust the prices of some drugs to meet the actual prices on the market to encourage hospitals to prescribe them without fear of financial loss.

Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Dr. Remi Ninkpe, GOA National Secretary, disclosed that out of a total of 400 trained Optometrists in the country, only 57 were serving under GHS in regional and district hospitals across the country.

He indicated that of the remaining quota, 280, representing about 64 percent of the total number, were engaged in the private sector with the rest in academia and other non-clinical areas, when there were many people who needed eye care.

Speaking on the topic “The current and future states of the optometry profession in Ghana Health Service” at the symposium, ASP Dr. Ninkpe stressed the need for GHS to mitigate the situation since eye care was very crucial.

ASP Dr. Ninkpe said besides their dwindling numbers, they were the lack of requisite equipment and called on the GHS to pay more attention to that department.

He urged optometrists to upgrade themselves in order to improve the quality of services and advised optometry students to take their studies seriously and accept postings to towns outside regional capitals, where their services were most needed.

Touching on the challenges of the department, Dr. Andrew Owusu-Ansah, a lecturer, said it needed office space, teaching clinic, laboratories, basic and state of the arts equipment but since their resource requirement was huge their request was routinely turned down by school authorities.

On achievements, he said the department currently ran two clinics on the university campus where it provides routine and special services to the university community, Cape Coast and its environs adding that it was the only clinic in Ghana that provided full scope optometry care.

He said the department also embarked on various routine outreach programmes to orphanages, prisons, lorry parks and communities and as part of this year’s celebration, the students association screened more than 500 people at Biriwa and Anomabo.

The Central Regional Minister, Mr. Aquinas Tawiah Quansah observed that many Ghanaians underestimated eye problems and emphasized the need for routine eye checks since unresolved problems could lead to blindness.

He urged the department to extend its outreach programme to Community Health Programmes and Services (CHPS) compound in the Region since community health nurses at such facilities were ill equipped to adequately handle eye problems.

He pledged the Regional Coordinating Council’s support in providing some medication and other needs of the department especially for its outreach programme and called on stakeholders to supplement Governments efforts particularly in the provision of equipment.

Glowing tributes were paid to the late Dr. Francis Monny, Ghana’s first optometrist and the brain behind optometry education at UCC.

Categories: Health, News

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