Gauteng Health on opening of eye clinics in Soweto

Ten eye clinics opened in Soweto and surrounding areas

Travelling long distances for eye screening and management of eye problems will be a thing of the past for the community of Dlamini in Soweto and surrounding areas.

This follows a public-private partnership between the Gauteng Department of Health, Brien Holden Vision Institute and the Standard Chartered Bank. The three partners are supporting the Seeing is Believing campaign and Vision Service Plan Global (VSP Global), which have resulted in the successful delivery of three projects and significant contribution to the development of eye health services in primary health care centres.

Through these projects, 72 709 adults and 16 886 children were examined by optometrists since the beginning of the partnership. A total of 25 130 adults and 6 583 children received spectacles and lastly, a total of 190 low vision assistive devices were dispensed amongst others.

Delivering the keynote address earlier today, Chief Director in the Johannesburg Health District Ms Mogeru Morewane said that clinics are equipped to assist patients with eye problems.

I can certainly inform you that our facilities are readily available for the community to access these services. Historically eye health services and professionals in this profession were only available at tertiary levels of care due late diagnosis which resulted in eye health disease complications and admissions.

Vision 2020 is an initiative by the World Health Organisation which was launched in 1999 to eliminate the causes of preventable blindness by the year 2020. This is in order to give all people in the world, particularly the millions of needlessly blind, the right to sight.

The number of people blind due to avoidable causes of blindness like cataract, refractive error and glaucoma is increasing every year. To enable GDoH to achieve the prescripts of Vision 2020, it is imperative that people are educated on the importance of eye health and screening to avoid complications in later stages said Ms Morewane.

Early detection of eye conditions leads to early intervention and it’s a powerful strategy to avoid complications and or even unnecessary blindness. It is less expensive to treat minor causes of vision loss than to wait until one is totally blind and then try to restore vision because by then the service is very expensive, if not possible at all.

We are delighted to contribute sustainably to the eradication of treatable and avoidable blindness in South Africa’s poorest communities through our ‘Seeing is Believing’ project. Launched in 2003, globally, we have committed to raise USD 100million between 2003 and 2020 through fundraising and the Bank’s matching funds. We are on track to reach the fundraising target well before 2020. To date, we have invested just over USD 2million – about ZAR 24million in South Africa alone. Blindness affects the education and livelihoods of the individuals and families involved and also the economic well-being of communities. We are glad we can play a role and are grateful to all the stakeholders who partner with us to help deliver these services on the ground. Mr. Kweku Bedu-Addo, CEO South Africa and Southern Africa, Standard Chartered Bank

This public-private partnership is a quality investment in the future of our community and we like to applaud Gauteng Department of Health, Standard Chartered Bank and VSP Global for supporting these significant programs, said Professor Kovin Naidoo, CEO of Brien Holden Vision Institute.

The Department is promoting and emphasizing the principle of prevention is better than cure and as such the following simple measures are key: have your eyes tested by an Optometrist or ophthalmologist every second year, if you have risk factors such as hypertension and or diabetes test your eyes at least once a year or more frequently if required, engage in Healthy Lifestyle activities like physical activity and healthy eating to prevent eye related systemic diseases like Hypertension and Diabetes, added Ms Morewane.

Other preventative measures include:

Always wear sunglasses or tinted lenses when you are in the sun

Ensure good antenatal care to avoid congenital eye problems

Ensure children receive all vaccinations as per immunization schedules

Ensure that any eye trauma is attended to urgently

Ensure that children are examined by an optometrist before entering primary school and high school

Don’t use eye drops that may have been prescribed for someone else

I’d like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Ophthalmology Society of South Africa and their immediate past President and World Ophthalmology Congress 2020 President, and one of our own, Dr Kgao Legodi for the good work they continue to discharge in eye health in a bid to achieve our government’s vision of A long and healthy life for all South Africans concluded Ms Morewane.

Source: Government of South Africa