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Initiative aims to reduce blindness

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:58 am

Vietnam is striving to reduce blindness to 0.3 percent by 2020 in an effort to complete its commitment to Vision 2020 – a global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness.

A doctor of An Sinh Hospital examines eyes of a poor woman ( Photo: Thanh Binh)

“We have to control the main causes of blindness like cataracts, refractive error and glaucoma by providing surgery for at least 170,000 to 300,000 cataract cases each year and eliminating trachoma by 2013,” said Director of the Vietnam National Institute of Ophthalmology (VNIO) Do Nhu Hon at the National Conference on Blindness Prevention 2010 on Dec. 11.

The VNIO said that Vietnam has around 370,000 blind people among nearly 2 million visually impaired people, about 0.59 percent of the population, and that around 700,000 cataract cases and 80,000 entropion cases across the country needed surgery as soon as possible.

“Our survey said that more than 30 percent of blind people in Vietnam do not realize that their illness can be treated and around one-third of the blind cannot afford treatment,” stressed Hon.

Authorities will focus activities on establishing an eye care network for children in all key cities and regions of the country along with further strengthening medical facilities and techniques as well as a communication program to raise awareness in communities on eye care and eye disease prevention, according to Hon.

A rapid increase in the refractive error rate to 15 percent of the population in rural areas and 40 percent in urban areas along with a lack of financial resources and inadequate public knowledge are challenges for the ophthalmology sector in Vietnam.

Health sector statistics show that more than 130,000 cataract surgeries were performed during the 2009-10 period, of which 30,000 were carried out by private medical clinics. Vietnam has around 14.5 optometrists per 1 million people and, at the district level, there are only 202 for 692 districts nationwide.

Source: SGGP

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