As Uganda prepares to join the rest of the World to celebrate World Sight Day, health practitioners have warned the general public against seeking eye care treatment from nonprofessional eye specialists.
The Assistant Commissioner for Health Services and also the Head Disability and Rehabilitation Division in the Ministry of Health Dr Stanley Bubikire said in Kampala that Ugandans are found of seeking health attention from herbalists while using conventional ways of treating eye-related diseases which he says has worsened the problem of vision health in the country.
“Many people tend to use herbs from traditional healers to treat their eyes. This has a big impact on people’s eyes because some herbs contain dangerous chemicals that can end up impairing the eyes.
“As the Ministry, we are asking the general public to seek medical attention from health centres and hospitals across the country,” said Bukire.
Bukire said although not all health facilities have eye specialists, the Government has tried to recruit Eye Specialists at Health Center IV, District Hospitals and at regional referral hospitals thus no need for the general public to go to herbalists and washing of their eyes with urine.
Regionally, the highest population with people suffering from sight problems according to Bukire is the Karamoja region followed by Busoga Sub Region with the greatest number being women.
To overcome such Vision Impairment challenges, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr. Diana Atwine advised the general public to always undergo eye checkups from health facilities.
Atwiine said the majority of the people are not aware of the various causes of eye diseases.
“The Ministry of health is calling on the general public to embrace eye checkings. This will help in lowering the problems of eye diseases some people visit the health facilities when the conditions of their eyes are in a sorry state which may require Cornea transplant which cannot be done in Uganda because of the law,” noted Atwiine.
Atwiine said Ugandans must improve their lifestyles by stopping to smoke and reduce the overusing of ICT gadgets like Smartphones which are playing a big contribution towards Vision Impairment.
Dr Anandh Ramanathan, the General Manager of Dr.Agarwals Eye Hospital told East African Business that the Government need to improve on Public Health information regarding Eyes health arguing that many people are still ignorant on how to keep their eyes from Eye Diseases.
He said Uganda still has a high burden of children with Eye health issues noting that if the parents are well sensitized, it can reduce the number of children suffering from vision Impairment.
Dr.Agarwals Eye Hospital is one of the Hospitals currently offering Specialized Eye treatment in Uganda.
In Uganda, it’s estimated that more than 18,000 children in Uganda are blind. According to recent research finding by the Sight Savers Uganda and about an estimated 300,000 to 350,000 people (Mature) in Uganda are blind and more than 1.2 million are visually impaired.
The leading cause of such problems according to Eye experts is trachoma cataracts among other causes. This year’s World Sight Day will be celebrated on 10the October in Soroti District.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO