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South Africa: Department of Health on a Drive to Educate People on the Importance of Eye Health and Screening
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs
Country: South Africa
Created: Apr 23, 2014

He said that over a three-year period, the project will support the department to provide eye health services to an estimated 30 000 children in Soweto and reduce the percentage of school children with uncorrected visual impairment by 90%, with a view to improve the quality of children’s lives and educational performance.

“The Eye Clinic that we are also opening today [Thursday] here at the Nike Training Centre will provide training to teachers in health promotion, school health nurses in primary eye health care, and optometrists in paediatric optometry.

“It will also serve as a referral centre for eye screenings in schools by School Health Nurses, project optometrists and volunteer optometrists. It will also provide optometry equipment and frames,” Gosnell said.
He added that the department values its partnership with VSP Global, Nike, and Brien Holden Vision Institute as this will strengthen and develop capacity of existing government structures to deliver eye care screening services through the Child Eye Health Project in Soweto.

“We hope that this intervention will improve communities’ knowledge of their eye conditions and thus prevent the onset of the disease. By extending eye-screening to the undiagnosed we will be able to control eye disease and enable our people to live full and healthy lives.”
The prevalence of eye related systemic diseases like diabetes and hypertension is rising at an alarming rate and is contributing to the increase of eye complications.

The National Department of Health estimates that over 80% of the population depends on public health care. This means that over 41 million people rely on only 229 public-sector optometrists to provide them with the necessary eye care.

Of this group, 15 million are children under the age of 15. Consequently the majority of South African children still have extremely limited access to any form of eye health services.

Dr Gosnell encouraged the communities to undergo eye testing at least once in two years in order to prevent blindness.
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