The 2018 World Sight Day (WSD) was commemorated in Zambia under the theme ‘Eye Care Every Where’ and was graced by the Minister of Health Dr Chilufya Chitalu. The commemoration was jointly supported by the University Teaching Eye Hospital, Eye care supporting organisations among them Sightsavers, Orbis, One Sight, and Operation Eyesight. The private sector in the field of eye care service provision included Vision Care, Lusaka Eye Hospital, Rotary Club and Argawal Eye Hospital. This year’s WSD attracted Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPO) such as the Zambia Library for the Visually Impaired, Zambia Federation for Disability Organisations (ZAFOD) and the Zambia Social Forum.
The Minister of Health, Dr Chitalu Chilufya conducted a tour of the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) Eye Hospital in the company of Dr Mutati Senior Medical Superintendent at the UTH Eye Hospital. Dr Mutati indicated that the hospital has for the first time, a retinal specialist and appealed to the minister to invest more in equipment and consumables; which are mostly not on the list of consumables procured by the medical stores. The Minister of Health has since directed Medical stores to start procuring consumables for the eye hospital.
The Hon Minister of Health pointed out that eye health is top priority for the Ministry of Health and that is the reason why an eye care hospital was built within the University Teaching Hospital. He reiterated that Zambia has made significant progress in transforming the eye health sector through infrastructure development and widen service provision. He appreciated the significant role of cooperating partners such as Sightsavers, Orbis and Operational Eyesight Universal who have played an important role in the provision of eye health services in the country. The minister indicated that his ministry will continue investing in Human Resource for health and this will reduce patient waiting time as well as referrals and/or evacuation to other countries. The UTH Eye Hospital now has retinal specialist and will now be able to provide retinal surgery for the first time.
The Minister emphasised his governments commitment in strengthening and increasing the role of Community Health Assistants in ophthalmology to carry out more of screening at community level. It is the Ministry’s determination to integrate eye health in Primary Health Care as well as build stronger partnerships in combating blindness and ensure universal health coverage. The minister indicated that the ministry is pursuing placement of ophthalmologists at all the District Health hospitals. He further said that the Levy Mwanawasa University Hospital will open up a faculty of Ophthalmology. He emphasised that the rural areas should not be left out in the placement of Human Resource for eye health.
To increase on awareness raising during the WSD, Standard Chartered Bank working with Sightsavers and the Chainama College of Health Sciences-Ophthalmology conducted eye screening at Levy shopping mall. The Bank staff volunteered their time to be part of this important event.