Ghana risks losing a significant portion of its human capacity to blindness if immediate steps are not taken to address issues related to sight.
The 2017 Ghana Blindness and Visual Impairment Study reveals over 300,000 people are on the verge of going totally blind. Cataract is one of the major causes of blindness with the rural places recording the highest cases of blindness.
Lack of adequate vocational skills for persons with blindness, according to stakeholders, is a major cause of worry as that has affected the living standards of persons living with blindness. It is for this reason that government and for that matter ministry of health and other stakeholders are being urged to adopt pragmatic new ways of dealing with issues relating to visual impairment in the country.
Globally, over 1.2 billion persons suffering from various forms of visual impairment do not have access to eye glasses. Ghana is no exception as the Ghana Blind and Visual Impairment Study says 207, 000 people in Ghana are blind with over 300,000 more on the verge of blindness if the needed care is not given.
The situation according to stakeholders needs to be given the same importance and attention given to breast cancer and other forms of chronic disease. Speaing in an interviewafyer donating some raw materials to the Akropong School for the Blind, as part of activities to make world sight day at the Akropong School for the Blind, Head of Residential Property Division of Broll Ghana Naadua Nuno says it about time Ghana adopts measures to address the many challenges affecting persons with visual impairment by creating relevant activities and awareness programmes that will help bring some level of relief to such persons in the society.
“October is world breast cancer awareness month just as is it world sigh month but everywhere you go, people are wearing pink ribbons, but nothing is said or done for the visually impaired. We believe improving vocational education especially for visually impaired students of the various institutions would greatly improve the living conditions of such people”.
Lack of vocational training and skill development of blind people is one the numerous challenges affecting the living standard of the visually impaired often times robbing them off their dignity and decent livelihoods. Guidance and Counseling Coordinator of the Akropong School for the Blind Daniel Oppong in an interview described the situation as worrying as often times, students of the school are unable to learn practically due to lack raw materials and teachers.
“…We used to have two teachers and even that, one will soon go on retirement, so you can understand the challenge. There are no raw materials for practical lessons and that is worrying”
The prevalence of blindness and severe visual impairment in Ghana currently stands at 0.74% and 1.07% respectively, with cataract, glaucoma and uncorrected refractive error being the major causes.
World sight day is an annual event globally instituted by the World Health Organization and is observed on October 11 every year to create awarness on the increasing number of sight related problems. Commemoration of the day also helps member states to device realistic strategies to deal with the various challenges bedeviling blind people in society
The main intervention strategies to reduce avoidable blindness are cataract surgery, followed by the development of optical and glaucoma services as these are the most cost-effective interventions available in the country.