Wednesday, 03 May 2023 17:15

Expanded eye care programme on the horizon

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Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton announced earlier today that Jamaicans are shortly to benefit from expanded eye care services.

“We all accept that a clear vision is a great enabler for economic and social prospects. During COVID-19, the Ministry, due to infection prevention and control
protocols, had to curtail the Cuban Eye Care programme,” the Minister said in his Sectoral presentation at Gordon House earlier today.

“This programme was in collaboration with the Republic of Cuba, which provided not only the clinical staff, but also the equipment and replacement lenses to
support the treatment of the varied eye conditions of our people. We have heard the call by the many Jamaicans who need the programme to be restarted. I am
proud to announce that in August of this year, we will see a return of the Cuban Eye Care programme to the country,” he added.

The Minister said other eye care initiatives will also be intensified.

“We will explore other eye care centres in public facilities across the island. This will be achieved not only by our collaboration with our friends in Cuba, but also
through the re-engagement of our local Ophthalmology Programme,” he noted.

“It is anticipated that at least 2,000 Jamaicans will receive the much-needed eye care interventions that will mitigate blindness and the negative impact that this
condition causes,” the Minister added.

This has started with addressing the backlog of persons waiting for cataract surgery at the Kingston Public Hospital.

“We will continue with increasing the number of diabetics being screened in the Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Programme in our primary care centres,” Dr.
Tufton said.

“In addition, there is a particular area that we would like to pay special attention to this year. That's with our children in schools. Too often we misdiagnose
children's learning difficulties as a sign of deviant behaviour in our schools and do not recognise that it could be a consequence of vision impairment,” he noted.

Ultimately, the Minister said, the goal is to address eye care with “greater deliberateness in our primary schools across Jamaica”.

“The aim is to visit 50 schools and to do free eye screening and, where required, to provide the necessary interventions. This will be done over an 18-month
period,” he said.