Saturday, May 15, 2021

Botswana urged to improve eyecare

The Lancet medical journal says there is need for Botswana to strengthen research on eye health. The Lancet which is among the world’s oldest and best-known general medical journals states that Botswana has only conducted less than 50 primary research studies on vision and eye health between 2000 and 2019. Although Botswana joins 20 other African countries with the lowest research studies on eye health globally, Lancet medical journal says eye health and vision have widespread and profound implications for many aspects of life, health, sustainable development, and the economy.

“More standardised data need to be collected from diverse settings and repeated over time. Our review revealed that data are particularly scarce from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), a gap that needs to be urgently addressed to better inform,” states part of their report entitled: The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health: vision beyond 2020.

The percentage of population blind or visually impaired in Botswana is reported to be between 3% and 4%. Latest eye health data shows that there were an estimated 370,000 people with vision loss in Botswana in 2020. Of these, 15,000 people were blind.

Lancet also estimates that annual productivity loss from vision impairment possibly runs into millions purchasing power parity. “Vision impairment reduces mobility, affects mental  wellbeing, exacerbates risk of dementia, increases likelihood of falls and road traffic crashes, increases the need for social care, and ultimately leads to higher mortality rates,” states Lancet.

In 2020, an estimated 596 million people had distance vision impairment worldwide, of whom 43 million were blind. Another 510 million people had uncorrected near vision impairment, simply because of not having reading spectacles. A large proportion of those affected (90%), live in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs).

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