National Eye Health Programme marks World Sight Day
By Cherno Omar Bobb
The National Eye Health Program of the Miniswtry of Health last Thursday joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Sight Day at a ceremony held at Bwiam General Hospital, West Coast Region.
The theme for this year’s celebration was ‘love your eyes at work.’ This year’s celebration focuses on the importance of eye health in workplace, with renewed calls for employers around the world to prioritise the eye health of their staff.
World Sight Day is observed annually on the second Thursday of October to draw attention to blindness and vision impairment in the world. The Gambia established a National Eye Care Programme now known as the National Eye Health Programme following the first national prevalence survey on blindness and eye disease in 1986. The goal was to improve the quality of eyesight.
At the event, Baba Galleh Jallow, deputy governor for West Coast Region, said avoidable bindness is frequently associated with poverty and lack of access to quality eye care service, saying for this reson, the government has established vision centers across the contry.
Dr Winston Ceesay, chief executive officer (CEO) and senior consultant ophthalmologist at SZRECC, said while it is mostly known that high risk areas are particularly those which are in the vicinity of dangerous equipment or heavy machinery and in proximity to hazardous chemicals or toxicants, these days prolonged screen exposure is also becoming a high risk factor.
Ceesay indicated that a routinely recommended treatment approach is to consciously blink the eyes every now and then and to look out the window at an object from a distance.
He noted that employers and employees should recongise the importance of workplace eye safety, adding that workplaces require an overall eye injury prevention programme with a maintenance component.
Michael M. Mendy, director of Health Promotion and Education at the Ministry of Health, in deputising for the minister for health, revealed that 2.2 billion people ,which is about a quarter of the world’s population, are visually impaired and about half of those could have been prevented or avoided.
Dr Ceesay disclosed that statistics revealed that 13 million people live with vision impairment linked to their work, with an estimated 3.5 million eye injuries occuring in the workplace every year.
He thus called for the need to design Occupational Safety and Health programmes to protect and enhance the vision of workers.
Sarjo Kanyi, programme manager for the National Eye Health Programme, outlined the need to bring eye care service to the door steps of all, urging hospitals to identify staff that would be trained in eye care service to ensure that the service they offer are of quality.
At the end of the event, a screening session was conducted for hundreds of people as well as classes and medication given to patients free of charge.