Government urged to employ more optometrists in public hospitals

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The Ghana Optometric Association has asked the government to employ newly trained optometrists in public hospitals to address the shortage of eye care specialists in communities.

It noted that many qualified optometrists were leaving the country due to poor working conditions and Government’s inability to recruit the trainees after school and said the situation must be fixed in time with the engagement of newly trained eye care givers.

This is contained in a statement issued by the Association after an Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Ho on the theme: “Expanding Optometric Practice In Africa: Focus On Scope, Training And Legislation”.

The 11th AGM held by the Association and the African Council of Optometry brought together optometrists from Nigeria, Togo, Cote D’Ivoire, Botswana, Djibouti, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana.

Stressing the recruitment of personnel, who have completed national service, the Association said ongoing job evaluations by the government should lead to “improved conditions of service for optometrists in the country”.

The statement signed by Prof Dr Samuel Bert Boadi-Kusi, National President of the Association, also urged the government to pass new laws and enforce existing regulations to eliminate fake practitioners in the country, which he said, “poses a serious threat for eye health in the country”.

The Association also asked the government to establish an Optometric Council in the country because “the current architecture of the Allied Health Professions Council which regulates over 22 health professions does not augur well for effective regulation of the profession of optometry in Ghana.”

The Association also requested the Ghana Health Services to allocate enough slots for study leave to optometrists in the public sector to pursue further studies as there were currently “limited slots”.

“There is an urgent need for an expanded scope of optometric practice in alignment with international best practices to meet evolving eye care needs in Ghana.

“The Ghana Optometric Association, therefore, invites government’s partnership to establish an Optometric College to offer Specialist (residency) optometric training in low vision, pediatrics, contact lenses, binocular vision, ocular diseases, neuro-optometry, Glaucoma, among others to offer improved eye care services to the population,” the Association added.

It asked the Food and Drugs Authority to include spectacle lenses on the list of medical supplies to ensure that only quality lenses were imported into the country.

“Currently, the Food and Drugs Authority does not consider spectacle lenses as medical supplies. This situation does not subject lenses to standard checks when they are being imported into the country.

This has created a market for substandard lenses in the country,” the Association noted.

The Association stated its resolve to collaborate and support efforts by Government and related agencies to provide quality eye care and help “reduce blindness and visual impairments” in the country.

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