Yemen | Events | Workshop on national strategy for blindness and visual impairment concludes in Yemen

Workshop on national strategy for blindness and visual impairment concludes in Yemen

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Blindness_strategy_workshopSana'a, 30 August 2016 — The national prevention of blindness programme, with WHO support, concluded on 29 August 2016, a 3-day consultative workshop on developing a national strategy for prevention of blindness and visual impairment in Yemen in line with the WHO global action plan 2014–2019 adopting framework for health system strengthening.

30 participants representing local and international nongovernmental organizations, ophthalmology departments in secondary and tertiary hospitals, academics from universities and officials from the national programme took part in the workshop.

The strategy for prevention of blindness and visual impairment aims to expand eye units in additional governorates, develop ophthalmic human resources, pool financial resources for blindness prevention, prepare ophthalmic educational materials to the community, and increase the cataract surgical rate from 2473 to 3500 cataract surgery per million people per year.

The prevalence of blindness in Yemen is 1.5%. Cataract, refractive error, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and coroneal opacity are the leading causes of vision loss in the country.

"This strategy is vital as huge backlog of avoidable blindness is a big public health issue, especially among children. WHO works closely with the Ministry of Health to boost a national strategy to help decrease prevalence of blindness and visual impairment among Yemeni people," said Dr Ahmed Shadoul, WHO Representative for Yemen.

In Yemen, financial constraints make it more difficult for population to have access to eye surgical services in light of limited number of eye doctors in most governorates. Many patients have to travel to Sana'a to receive eye surgical intervention as 82.3% of the total eye units in Yemen (187 units) are located in Sana'a and other big cities.

"Yemen is suffering from inequitable distribution of eye care services. In some governorates such as Marib, Al-Jawf, Al-Mahara and Raima," said Dr Tawfiq Al-Khateeb, Director of the National Prevention of Blindness Program at the Ministry of Public Health and Population.

"Though we have been able to provide quality cataract surgical services and other anterior segment surgeries, but still struggling to develop sub-specialized eye care services of corneal grafting, vitreoretinal and pediatric ophthalmic surgeries either in public sector hospitals," added Dr Al-Khateeb.

Since the escalation of the conflict in March 2015, many ophthalmology units have stopped providing health services. In addition, many eye doctors left the country fleeing the conflict.

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Key health-related statistics

Total population (000s) 27 426
Total health expenditure (% of general government expenditure) 3.9
Primary health care units and centres (per 10 000 population) 1.6
Life expectancy 65.3

Source: Framework for health information systems and core indicators for monitoring health situation and health system performance, 2018

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