Committee members of the Inclusive Eye Health (IEH) Project have highlighted challenges facing eye care provision in the Northwest. Top on the list remains the lack of requisite resources and to a larger extent, the contemporary COVID-19 and socio-political crises. This was the substance of the top management committee meeting in Bamenda to assess progress made thus far in the project implementation.
The project in its second year is to ensure that eye care services are accessible to all including persons with disabilities and other minority groups as well as to link those with visual impairment to Community Based Rehabilitation Services. At the start of the meeting, Prof Tih Pius Muffih, Director of the Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) Health Services commended management committee members for being so instrumental in the implementation of the project. He noted that their support and contribution cannot be over-emphasized. Mr. Tamon James, Project Coordinator presenting the project implementation noted that in its efforts to prevent COVID 19, 180 health personnel have been trained in Infection Prevention and WASH, 5 project facilities remodeled to improve access, especially to IPC/WASH facilities, Personal Protective Equipment have been supplied to project facilities like a face mask, disposal gowns, hand sanitizer, rags, soap and psychosocial support provided to 577 health workers and 2724 patients.
Shedding light on capacity building, the Coordinator disclosed that one staff is currently in training to improve his skill in the provision of low vision services, 36 nurses have been trained in primary eye care while 80 community volunteers and 67 leaders of the Organization of Persons with Disabilities have been trained to provide health education on eye care. According to Mr. Tamon said the project will begin school screening in schools and improve collaboration between primary and secondary eye care. Despite the progress, he noted that the project has faced challenges like not being able to meet up with the target, late acquisition of surgical instruments, production and supply of some recommended eye drops late reports from health facilities among others.
The progress report was applauded by all present who marveled at the outcome of the project so far. Reacting to the report, Dr. Kingsley Che Soh, Northwest Regional Delegate of Public Health praised the CBC Health Services for its commitment to ensuring the access to eye service by the population of the Northwest Region. Amongst other recommendations made, he urged the project team to revise the referral path to enable patients fully have access to services. The project should work in collaboration with the Delegation of Public Health and Transport to carry out screenings for drivers. All the reflections during the meeting will be documented and strategies put in place to ensure implementation.
The meeting was attended by Regional Delegates of Secondary Education, Social Affairs, Women’s Empowerment and the Family, District Medical Officers from the partner health facilities, heads of Eye departments, and some hospital Administrators. The CBC Health Services implement the Inclusive Eye Health Project thanks to funding from CBM.