Vertical and Horizontal integration of Primary Eye Care into Primary Health Care

Like many developing countries, provision of eye health services is unfavourably skewed against rural communities. This therefore compounds the already wearisome situation of avoidable blindness. Similarly, Ghana SIB IV was faced with the challenge of local people accessing eye health services at the community level as a result of non-existence of such services at the rural communities.

To help address this, districts hospitals in Ghana SIB project areas were equipped and the capacities of Ophthalmic Nurses in same hospitals developed through refresher courses and primary eye care training of trainers workshops. The trainers in turn trained community health nurses, School health coordinators, and midwives in primary eye care to be able to offer primary eye care at the basic level and refer where appropriate. This has helped in integrating primary eye care into the existing primary health care system in the project operational areas.

By this, the burden on Ophthalmic Nurses who usually man entire district hospital’s eye units is lessened having previously always to visit communities for outreaches in addition to their static services. Now, primary eye care workers in partner districts mobilize, identify, refer and in some instances invite the ophthalmic nurses to the local communities to attend to the clients where necessary.

With the implementation of Community Based Health Planning Services (a programme where community health facilities are provided and manned by Community Nursing Officers to provide 24 hour primary health services and refer where necessary), a huge platform has been created to expand same practice to cover the 35 districts under currently under Ghana SIB instead of 24 districts previously; thereby bring eye care services to the door steps of many of our rural folks.

Emmanuel Kwasi Kumah