Increasing Access to Eye Health using Current Eye Care Resources and Health Information Technology in Three Sub-Saharan African Countries by the Year 2020
(School of Public Health (UMD) Health Services Administration Master's Student)
Eye care is taken for granted around the world while 80% of the world’s blindness is avoidable. With an estimated 4.8 million blind in ub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) to relay efforts to reduce blindness. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) developed the VISION 2020: Right to Sight initiative in 1999 with the goal of eliminating avoidable blindness by the year 2020. We extracted information from literature and data analysis websites (e.g.,ICO, HReH) into standardized forms and summarized the results quantitatively and qualitatively about the demand and supply of eye health resources to compare the number of ophthalmologists per million population in the United States, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Zambia by the year 2020. Using VISION 2020, we evaluated the impact of those policies on the ratio of ophthalmologists per million population in four countries in 2020 and whether that ratio is sufficient to achieve 2,000 cataract surgeries per year per ophthalmologist. Our preliminary results of the literature review indicates that in 2011, the cataract surgeon (ophthalmologist) to-population ratio in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Zambia were below the VISION 2020 target ratio of four ophthalmologists per million population. Even based on the current trend in the United States, with the number of ophthalmologists increasing, the population older than 60 years of age is growing twice the rate than the number of ophthalmologists practicing. With a focus on local advocacy, we analyze the existing targets for HReH and HIT for the average number of ophthalmologists required for each Sub-Saharan African country. However, further prospects of the study is to accurately estimate the combination of the number of HReH and HIT required in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Zambia by the year 2020.