Strategies for reducing visual impairment and blindness in rural and remote areas of Africa

Olalekan A. Oduntan, Khathutshelo P. Mashige, Rekha Hansraj, Godwin Ovenseri-Ogbomo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The prevalence of visual impairment (VI) and blindness in Africa is one of the highest in the world; a large proportion of the causes are preventable. The prevalence is particularly high in rural and remote areas, where many of the continent's inhabitants live. This is of great concern because of the low number and poor distribution of primary eye care practitioners, as well as poor eye care infrastructure services in those areas. Uncorrected refractive errors are a major cause of avoidable VI and blindness, and optometrists play a major role in refractive error correction on the continent. However, as with other healthcare providers in Africa, optometrists are few and tend to be mainly in major cities. This paper highlights possible strategies, in alignment with the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, that can reduce VI in rural and remote areas of the continent. The strategies include increasing the eye care workforce, attracting them to rural areas and retaining them there, improving the eye care infrastructure, service improvement such as equitable distribution of eye care practitioners, implementing preventive measures such as vision screening and affordable spectacles, and eye health education such as eye health promotions, school health programmes and eye care awareness campaigns. Such strategies could drastically reduce the prevalence of VI and blindness in rural and remote areas of Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera25
JournalAfrican Vision and Eye Health
Volume74
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2015

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