Hundreds of eye patients across the country expected to undergo surgery are stranded at various hospitals because funds released for the exercise have been locked up in Consolidated Bank Ghana account.
The donors – the Himalayan Cataract Project of the USA – released the funds to take care of surgeries for close to 7,000 cataract patients this year, but doctors are having difficulties accessing the funds following the collapse of uniBank.
The situation has affected the smooth takeoff of the National Cataract Outreach Programme (NACOP) which was officially launched Monday in Koforidua.
According to the Ghana Health Service, the current prevalence rate of blindness in the country is at 7.4 per thousand, representing 207,200 people living with total blindness while severe visual impairment constitutes 10.7 per thousand representing 299,600 people currently living with visual impairment in Ghana and are at risk of going blind.
Cataract contributes to nearly 55% of blindness in the country, followed by Glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy which contributes to 19.4% and 12.3% respectively.
According to the GHS, 40,000 cataract surgeries are required to be conducted yearly among Ghanaians and in order to clear the backlog, the NACOP was introduced to bridge the gap.
Ghana is only able to do 15,000 cataract surgeries annually.
However, the former Head of the Eye Care Unit of the GHS, now the Country Representative of Himalayan Cataract Project, Dr Oscar Debrah was worried that monies released into the account of GHS by the donors have not been released for smooth take-off of the project leaving many eye patients screened “stranded” at various part of the country.
Officials of the newly formed CBG were unavailable to comment.