The 2019 'National World Sight Day' has been launched in Cape Coast with a call on Ghanaians to prioritise eye care services.
The day is marked annually on the second Thursday of October to ensure that all people have access to needed preventative, curative and rehabilitative eye health services of sufficient quality.
It was marked on the global theme: "Universal Eye Health", and locally, on the theme, "Universal Eye Health, #Vision First".
It is an action call for joint stakeholder involvement in awareness creation, ensuring greater access to quality eye care services, and paying attention to avoidable blindness and visual impairments.
The launch coincided with a donation from the Halma Group, a US based global group of life saving technology companies, which presented a cheque of $200,000.00 to the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital in support of free treatment and eye care services.
In return, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital, presented citations to honour various Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and partner agencies for their dedication to support eye care service delivery in the Region.
Dr. Nsiah Asare, Director-General of the GHS, said sight and vision were important components of life to keep touch with one's surroundings, safety and help maintain sharpness of the mind.
He said the Ghana Blindness and Visual Impairment study report estimates that 0.74 per cent of people living in Ghana were blind from all causes, meaning that about 222,000 of the estimated 30 million people were affected and in dire need of educational, vocational or social support.
The figure does not include the large number of people who have poor vision affecting their daily lives.
"Four of every five blind persons should not have been blind because most of the leading causes of blindness as presented by the Head of Eye Care Unit, can be prevented or treated with known and cost effective interventions."
Also, 80 per cent of the causes of global blindness are avoidable. Nine in ten persons live in poor countries with Africa having the highest rate of blindness.
Dr. Asare reiterated government's commitment to support general health care services as part of moves on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on health.
Mr. Kwamena Duncan, Central Regional Minister applauded the Himalayas Cataract Project (HCP) a U.S based Non-Governmental Organisation and the GHS for offering free eye screening and treatment for people in the region, especially the poor and vulnerable.
He announced that the intervention had screened more than 5000 and performed surgeries to over 400 patients with visual impairments.
Reiterating the significance of the day, Osabarema Kewsi Arthur, the Oguaamanhen, urged all to take proper care of the eyes to enable them go about their normal duties.
He urged the public to make clear efforts in ensuring that they desisted from doing things, which were not vision friendly in other to protect their eyes.