RENOWNED eye specialist and executive director of Solomon Guramatunhu, Dr Solomon Guramatunhu, has said efforts to improve the provision of eye care services are being hampered by the flight of trained ophthalmologists to other countries in search of greener pastures.
Report by Byron Mutingwende
Guramatunhu was speaking at the commemoration of the World Sight Day held at Harare Gardens last Friday.
“Zimbabwe is training ophthalmologists and ophthalmic nurses. To date, 27 ophthalmologists have been trained. However, staff attrition still remains a challenge,” Guramatunhu said.
“We call upon the corporate world, churches, communities and civic society to join hands with us as we fight avoidable blindness.It is my fervent hope that with training and retention of manpower, there will be an improvement in the number of cataracts that are operated in a year.”
“This number stands at about 4 000. To achieve the goals of Vision 2020, the number of surgically removed cataracts should increase to 15 000 per year,” he said.
Guramatunhu said the Health and Child Welfare ministry was working hard to ensure that conditions of service for health workers were improved in order to retain staff in the system.
“Each of our central hospitals has an eye unit. Eye care services are also provided as outreach programmes in the various provinces by a team of dedicated doctors, nurses and partners.”
“As I speak to you, we have a team conducting eye camps at Mnene Hospital in Mberengwa starting from the November 21 to 24, where they will be performing 200 cateract surgeries.”
“With the improvement of the economy, it is hoped that funding of eye care services will also improve to enable Zimbabwe achieve the goals of Vision 2020 as we celebrate this year’s theme: Healthy Eyes: A Bright Look into the Future,” Gurumatunhu said.
Vision 2020 (the right to sight by 2020) is a global initiative aimed at eliminating avoidable and treatable blindness by year 2020.
Guramatunhu said Zimbabwe had an estimated 115 000 blind people, of which 50% or about 60 000 are cataract-related.
“The other causes of avoidable or treatable blindness include glaucoma, trachoma, refractive errors, diabetes, measles and Vitamin A deficiency,” he said.