There is need to give much emphasis on the primary healthcare of the eye so as to avoid blindness and other related complications.
According to Dr Amal Ahmed, a regional eye surgeon for North Eastern, the prevalence rate of blindness in the area was high compared to other parts of the country.
He was speaking at Garissa county referral hospital Monday during a two day free eye cataract surgery camp organized by the Rotary club of Nairobi in partnership with University of Nairobi.
Dr. Ahmed said primary intervention was necessary to arrest the situation before it worsens, adding that the region’s cataract prevalence rate currently stands at 1.6 percent, while in the rest of the county it is between 0.5 to 0.7 percent.
“Majority of the patients we receive in this region always complain of cataract and glaucoma whether they are adults or children. This is of great concern to us as eye surgeons,” she said.
On his part, Dr. Mohamed Salim from the rotary club disclosed that they have already carried out 16,000 cataract operations countrywide and urged other NGOs to come on board and lend a helping hand to patients.
“It is my humble appeal to other like minded NGOs to visit this part of the country. The number of those who need this service are really overwhelming. This is partly due to the fact that unlike in other areas where NGOs are there in plenty, in North Eastern they are very few,” he said.
The area county executive for Health Ahmed Nadhir said that in their own estimates they have over 20,000 people who have visual impairment and who need interventions.
“As a county we are worried with numbers. We do not want to be a county that contribute to a high burden of diseases. We really need to get an academic discourse that will help us understand why we are having these high cases,” he said.
Nadhir said the country was investing in primary healthcare noting that significant improvement had been noted.
“As much as we are looking at the secondary interventions, there is need to look at the primary interventions. This include ensuring that people have enough knowledge including ensuring that children do not have vitamin A deficiency,” he said.
The camp that will go on for the next four days targets more than 200 surgeries.
By Jacob Songok