In 2019, Vision For a Nation (VFAN) Ghana mobilized a group of senior Ghanaian eye health professionals and with their input, published the first Ghana Primary Eye Care Training Manual. It is our hope that within the next 5 years, with the support of the GHS and the wider eye health NGO community in Ghana, we will see primary eye care integrated into primary health care across Ghana, as was achieved in Rwanda.
Our first steps along this journey to a sustainable and integrated primary eye care service, are two regional school vision screening and eye health awareness raising programmes in Central Region, and more recently in Upper East Region. These programmes will run, in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Ghana Education Service (GES), until 2022. The goal is to improve eye health among school children and teachers in the region, by training GHS nurses in Primary Eye Care (PEC) and supporting them to deliver school screenings and eye health awareness sessions to children and teachers at selected schools within their districts.
The Central Region programme kicked off to a fantastic start in October 2019. GHS nurses from 5 districts are being trained in PEC by the VFAN Eye Health Team in cohorts of 18. The first cohort of nurses from Agona West District delivered school screenings to 12,421 children and teachers, and awareness raising sessions at 33 schools across the district. A further 11,202 were vision screened in Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese (AAK) District, bringing the total number screened so far to 23,623.
In early 2020 we opened a small regional office within existing government offices in Tongo, in Upper East Region (UER), where our new Regional Coordinator will be based to support delivery of the UER project. In January, we trained 45 GHS nurses from the first 3 focus districts in PEC. VFAN PEC screening kits (see photo) are distributed to each trained nurse, to enable the planned PEC screening at schools, and in health centres in the future. Health promotion and eye health awareness raising activities commenced in February 2020 in anticipation of the first round of screenings. However, in mid-March, all schools in Ghana were closed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, but our team is working hard to ensure that the programme can kick off again as soon possible once restrictions are removed.
Contact reference: Louise Storey, Head of Programmes firstname.lastname@example.org
Image on top: The GHS nurse cohort from Nabdam District upon completion of their VFAN PEC Training Course with their PEC screening kits