Trying to Make a Sustainable Impact

Eye Care in Ghana

Obtaining access to eye care in Ghana is a challenge for many reasons.

  • There are only about 300 ophthalmologists and Optometrists for the 23 million populations
  • Most of the providers are clustered in the larger cities.
  • Travel to and from providers offices is difficult
  • Access to expensive medications and treatment is impossible for most of the population to obtain.
  • Training and continuing education is scarce

 

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For these and many other reasons there is a large reservoir of untreated eye disease in Ghana. One would think that if someone would just set up a clinic with free care there would be a line of desperate individuals for treatment. This is usually not the case. Communication is not easy in Ghana however it is improving. Transportation is also slow and unreliable.   There are understandable fears of undergoing invasive treatment but a foreign doctor who they do not know.

The keys to a successful intervention are therefore contingent on developing effective relationships with the local leadership and health care community:

  • Local village leaderships/ Chiefs
  • Engagement of local and regional Ophthalmologists and Optometrists
  • Effective communication with local heath administrators / ministers
  • Understanding the role of religious leaders in the health care decisions of the local citizens.

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In the final analysis, we need to decide if the trip we are planning is really just a work vacation for us. However, valuable and laudable it is to spend a week or so in a developing country this must be weighed against the negative fall out from a trip that disrupts long-term operations and relationships without replacing them with something better and sustainable.