Home > All Stories > Revealed: Tanzania has only 23 eye specialists

Revealed: Tanzania has only 23 eye specialists


As blindness continues to afflict many people in the country, especially in Dodoma Region, the Minister for Health and Social Welfare Dr Haji Mponda has said Tanzania has only 23 eye specialists.

Worse still 21 of these are stationed in Dar es Salaam while the remaining two are posted to Lindi and Ruvuma, leaving the remaining regions, including the most affected, Dodoma, with no eye specialists.

Launching the second Phase of Vision to Sights Strategic Plan in Dar es Salaam, over the weekend, the minister said the imbalance is due to the fact that most hospitals are based in the city. The minister said late admission of patients to health facilities, lack of qualified expertise, medicine and equipment are among factors that increase the cases of blindness in the country.

He said there are more than 1.350 million people with visual impairments and 150,000 people are blind. “We have 80 percent shortage of eye specialists in all government hospitals and 77 percent of eye specialist assistants; this problem contributes to the rise of blindness in the country.”

Mponda said under the strategic plan his ministry will make sure it is providing all required materials and services to make sure that it achieves World Health Organisation (WHO) vision of minimising blindness cases by 2020. He added that the government would keep on sensitising communities on blindness so that the people are able to go to the hospital at the early stages.

“It is important we prevent blindness from increasing, so in this regard the government is in the process of implementing all the points in this strategic plan,” he said.

The ministry is also strengthening the country’s capacity to handle cases of blindness through training of more ophthalmology as well as other professional health staff,” the minister said. WHO country representative Rufalo Chatola said blindness is one of the causes of poverty in many countries.

He asked Tanzania government to make sure blindness is eradicated in the country by the year 2020. At the same function ,Secretary General of Dar es Salaam Lions Club of Mzizima Mustafa Kudrati said his organisation is committed to end eye problems in the country, adding that it has been providing eye care countrywide .

He said last year his club provided eye care to students in Dar es Salaam, Lindi, Morogoro and Ruvuma regions.

“We conducted screening exercise in Lindi which helped us identify more than 70 mature cataracts and 12 minor surgeries, and we also work with CCBRT to provide cataracts surgeries,” he said.

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY

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