700,000 Ghanaians are currently living with glaucoma, 250,000 of them not knowing they have the disease. Do you know your status?

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The Vice-President of the Ophthalmological Society of Ghana, Dr Mike Gyasi, has expressed concern about the high cost of glaucoma drugs, indicating that it is the major reason why Ghanaians diagnosed with the disease are unable to access medical care.

At the launch of 2015 World Glaucoma Week in Accra last Tuesday, Dr Gyasi contended that a reduction in the cost of glaucoma drugs would enable patients to access medical care frequently.

According to him, more than 50 per cent of people diagnosed with glaucoma were unable to access medical help due to the high cost of glaucoma drugs.

NHIS cover

Dr Gyasi said one important step that supported the fight against glaucoma was for government to increase the number of glaucoma drugs covered under the National Health Insurance Scheme, since according to him, the three glaucoma drugs covered by the scheme were not enough to support the treatment of the disease, especially the severe type of glaucoma, which is Primary Open Angle Glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a disease that affects the eye and is the major cause of irreversible blindness worldwide.

In Ghana, an estimated 700,000 Ghanaians are currently living with glaucoma, 250,000 of them not knowing they have the disease.

Out of the number, 60,000 have already become blind.

The alarming statistics make Ghana one of the leading countries in glaucoma cases worldwide.

World Glaucoma Week

World Glaucoma Week is a global initiative spearheaded by the World Glaucoma Association and World Glaucoma Patients Association. This year’s event is being observed from March 8-14, with a call on governments, eye-care professionals and patient groups worldwide to participate in activities that will raise awareness and encourage the early detection of glaucoma.

This year’s awareness week is a partnership between the Glaucoma Association of Ghana (GAG), the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Ophthalmological Society of Ghana.

GAG awareness

The President of the Glaucoma Association of Ghana (GAG), Mr Harrison Abutiate, said the intensive awareness creation initiatives by stakeholders, including the GAG and Ministry of Health (MoH), had yielded fruit. He added, “Indeed, feedback from the public shows that at least 25 per cent of Ghanaians now know something about glaucoma or have heard about glaucoma and out of this number, at least 20 per cent have taken action to check their status.”

According to him, GAG’s research showed that most people living with glaucoma did not recollect the name after a visit to an eye-care facility. “That is why we have coined the name ‘Hinta Anifraye’ as the Akan name for glaucoma,” Mr Abutiate said.

In a speech read on his behalf, the Minister of Health, Dr Kweku Agyemang-Mensah, said the government was in the process of reviewing the essential drugs list.

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