An official ceremony was Thursday held at the Kotoka International Airport, to kick-start a three-week ophthalmic training project by the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital for allied eye health professionals across the country.
At the invitation of the Ministry of Health, the training is to strengthen the capacity of health professionals who deliver paediatric and adult sub-specialised eye care services.
With sponsorship from Standard Chartered bank, the project would partner the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) to provide training in sub-specialty areas such as Cataract, Surgical and Medical Retina, Paediatric Strabismus and Glaucoma to selected ophthalmic personnel aboard the Flying Eye Hospital.
More than 100 nurses, optometrists, biomedical engineers and anaesthetists are expected to receive training through workshops and hands-on training, while about 60 surgeries are performed in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions.
Additionally, Orbis would provide continuous education to allied health professionals and advocate for the roll-out of the recently approved World Health Organisation's primary eye care curriculum, which would help strengthen the referral capacity from the district to tertiary level.
This is Orbis' fourth visit to offer specialised assistance to Ghana. The previous ones were in 1990, 2006 and 2014.
Founded in the United States city of New York in 1982, the international non-for-profit nongovernmental organisation is dedicated to saving sight world-wide.
The world's only fully accredited teaching hospital on an MD-10 aircraft, provides advance medical training to various health care practitioners in eye care delivery and the treatment of complicated problems.
In view of these feats, Dr Bawumia said, the Government in December 2017, invited the Orbis to provide once again those specialised training.
The Vice President appealed to Orbis to provide partnership for the improvement of Ghana's telemedicine programme and also make the "Cybersight" one of the teaching and learning materials for Ophthalmology Residency programmes.
Cybersight provides the global community with learning, sharing and practice for eye health professionals.
Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister for Health, stated that the Ministry prioritised eye health just as any other aspect of health because the rate of blindness in a country could give an indication of its level of development.
The Ministry was, however, constrained by insufficient numbers of eye health personnel and also by some gaps in their capacities in handling emerging eye diseases, hence the laudable intervention of Orbis.
In October 2000, Ghana demonstrated its commitment to prevent avoidable blindness by signing on to the global declaration of support to VISION 2020: THE RIGHT TO SIGHT .
The Campaign was anchored on the control of diseases that caused avoidable blindness, the development and deployment of human resources for eye health delivery.
It also focused on the development and strengthening of infrastructure and appropriate technology for eye health.
Ghana was also committed to achieving the Global Goal on Health and the Action Plan (2014-2019) on Universal Eye Health.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said a National Cataract Outreach programme had been put in place in collaboration with partners to deal with the perennial low numbers of cataract surgeries performed.
Following its inception in September 2017, more than 9,000 cataract surgeries had been performed as a complementary effort to the routine cataract service delivery.
After clearing the cataract backlog to keep pace with incidences, half of the incidence of avoidable blindness would be solved.
Mr Joseph Kofi Adda, the Minister of Aviation, commended the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital and the sponsors for their efforts in 'saving the nation's sight'.
He pledged the Aviation sector's support to make the project successfully.