Rwandans are called to have eye test, treatment to fight blindness

By Elias Hakizimana.

Rwanda Ophthamologists call citizens to have eye test and treatment as services are affordable in line with combating blindness.

Ophthamologists across the world were in Kigali last week to showcase eye test and treatment Services.

Most of exhibited services include telemedicine programs that are helpful for University lecturers to prepare future ophthalmologists.

Lucia NADAF, Country Director of Orbis International for Zambia said that doctors from rural areas need to be linked with other doctors across the world through digital communication to improve eye care services among the population.

NADAF was speaking during the conference organized by Rwanda Ohthamology Society (ROS) in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the College of Ophthamology of Eastern Central and Southern Africa (COECSA) in Kigali last week.

“We work with communities, Ministry of Health and Government Hospitals to train Community Health Workers on the ground, we give them basic skills and the guidelines to help citizens go to hospitals for treatment and care. We also work with eye clinics, we provide them with equipment and according to their eye problem conditions, some conditions can be 50 percent treated or not,” Nadaf said.

She added that they are working with Rwanda Ophthamology to equip students in Telemedecine program with needed skills to cater for eye patients.

Emmanuel Nsengiyumva, Resident/Student in Rwanda International Institute of Ophthamology (RIIO) that is one of COECSA schools, said that RIIO trains students who graduated in general medicine and who have served in clinics. Trainees get 4-year-residency program in Ophthamology to become Ophthamologists.

Incepted in 2012 with Agarwal’s eye hospital Rwanda, RIIO started giving lessons in 2018and currently has 10 residents, 4 in second year and 6 in first year.

“We have only 16 Ophthamologists countrywide, we thought on how to open an Ophthamology School to increase the number of Ophtamologists to offer adequate eye care treatment for Rwandans,” Nsengiyumva noted.

Cataract is said to be among the leading eye diseases globally as it occupies 50 percent of the leading causes of blindness.

COECSA works in 13 countries across the world and is the one to award certificates to residents/students in ophthalmology among the Universities they work with.

Through an external rotation, residents keep exchanging skills from country to another. Apart from being a school, RIIO is an organization that partners with the ministry of health to implement the National Strategic Plan.

Through the conference, Ophthamologists exchanged evidence and research to improve eye care.

Vincent Tuzinde, Country Manager of One Sight eye care company said that they partner with the ministry of health of Rwanda to develop eye treatment especially in assessing if one can have a normal vision using glasses.

One Sight services are available in 20 hospitals for around 4,5 million people; and are expected to reach all 48 hospitals for 11 Million people by March 2020.

Eliane Ndererimana, Senior Program Manager in The Fred Hollow Foundation, an Australian Organisation working in Five African countries namely Rwanda, Kenya, Erythrea, Ethiopia and Burundi said that

They focus on cataract treatment, trachoma elimination and uncorrected reflective errors plus Diabethic and Rhetnopathy.

“We need to build a strong health system to treat eye patients through training and offering equipment, we do advocacy in different ways to ensure eye care services are adequate and reach everyone’s needs and we provide funding to the College of Ophthamology of Eastern Central and Southern Africa (COECSA).” She said.

Pacifique Uwamahoro, the general secretary of Rwanda Ophthalmic Clinical Officers and Cataract Surgeon (ROCOCS) that works with districts’ hospitals said that they train and mentor nurses on basic eye treatment and partner with the Ministry of Mealth and Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) in wide eye treatment initiatives.

She said that the remaining challenge to offer adequate eye treatment is lack of enough Ophthamologists as only one person is serving at one hospital. The ministry of health expects having two Ophthamologists but campuses have not yet certified them.

Eye diseases are at the second place at hospitals . In 2015, avoidable Blindness in Rwanda was at 1% among people of over 50-years old.

Uwamahoro called for more efforts between Ophthamologists and government entities to sensitize citizens to go to hospitals for test and treatment.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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