Oct 23, 2012

Guest Post: Campaign to Prevent Blindness Among Filipinos

Last week I received an email from one of my readers, a Maui Terrado of Bright Idea Events Management. Here is her letter:
I was really happy to have come across your blog. I am part of an
organization that advocates for the eradication of preventable
blindness in the Philippines. We don't have a lot of media entities
who are interested in this issue. It is actually one of the most
overlooked medical conditions in our country. It's a bit sad because
we have a growing number of Filipinos who are growing blind by the day
because of lack of awareness on how they can prevent or address
conditions of preventable blindness.
I am sending you an article that we issued lately, hoping that we can
get more people know about this campaign through your blog. Your help will really make a big difference, especially for this campaign. :)
Thank you in advance.

In response, I decided to use the article she sent as a guest post in this blog. It is also my way of pitching in help for Maui's advocacy which, I must agree, is not getting the attention it so deserves.
Here is the article proper:

The Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology (PAO), the premier specialty
society of eye doctors in the country, has embarked on an education
campaign to help curb the worsening prevalence of preventable
blindness in the Philippines today. In the recent Vision 2020 Advocacy
and District Program Planning Workshop held at the Richmonde Hotel in
Ortigas Center, Pasig City, the PAO underscored the need for the
health community, especially eye doctors who are practicing in the
Philippines, to take a bolder stance in the eradication of avoidable
blindness, especially in the rural communities.

“With every restored vision, we increase the potential of Filipinos to
become more productive members of society. This is our advocacy and
legacy. We want to bridge the gap between blindness, vision impairment
and awareness; and increase every Filipino’s access to proper eye
health care. The PAO believes that if we educate the public about the
common causes of blindness and how they can access proper eye health
service, we empower them with the knowledge and thereby promote a good
health-seeking behavior in order to prevent blindness. Though not
life-threatening, blindness is ultimately diminishing the quality of
life of each and every blind Filipino,” said Dr. Maria Victoria A.
Rondaris, Committee Chair for Sight Preservation of the PAO.

Crucial to its commitment to help mitigate preventable blindness in
the Philippines by the year 2020, the PAO continues to hold training
workshops all over the Philippines to promote its “my community, my
responsibility” advocacy.

At the Vision 2020 Advocacy and District Planning Workshop, Dr.
Rondaris reiterated the results of the Third National Survey of
Blindness (2002) which showed that bilateral cataract and uncorrected
refractive error are the number one cause of blindness and visual
impairment, respectively. This survey has also showed that cataract
is also the top cause of blindness among Filipino children. This is
consistent with the world statistics as shared by the WHO Western
Pacific Region Technical Officer for the Prevention of Blindness, Dr.
Andreas Mueller. He showed global data of approximately 285 million
people worldwide live with low vision and blindness. Of the 285
million, 246 million have moderate or severe visual impairment, 145
million of which are due to uncorrected refraction error, while 39
million of the 285 million are blind. Dr. Mueller pointed out that
there is a great discrepancy in Visual Impairment cases in Southeast
Asia compared with North America, Europe, and the rest of the world.
He attributed this to poor integration of health care systems, lack of
awareness, and low ratio of ophthalmologists to the population.

Dr. Noel Chua, Chairman of the National Committee for Sight
Preservation noted that among the challenges for the Vision 2020
campaign in the Philippines is the lack of public awareness, limited
access to proper eye care health and services and the maldistribution
of eye health professionals.

Dr. Rondaris reiterated the need for workshops that focus on the
importance of creating district comprehensive eye programs to engage
local ophthalmologists in the various provinces. She added that in
order for Vision 2020 Philippines to work, there is a need for
community participation and multisectoral collaboration.

Photo Credit: Patricia de la Rosa/Getty Images


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