Laying the Foundations to Overcome Needless Blindness in Ghana
June 6, 2017 | Semi-Finalist Perspectives | 100&Change

Speeding along the coastal roads of southern Ghana, I know that heavy traffic awaits in Accra and will ultimately determine how timely our arrival at the Ghana Health Services office will be. There we have an important meeting scheduled with healthcare leaders to present innovative approaches that will transform Ghana’s eyecare system.   

Our Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) team has just finished post-operative exams after an outreach in the Volta region, providing 341 sight-restoring surgeries in four days. At the helm of our vehicle is Ken Adjah, the local optometrist in Keta who was integral in screening patients and facilitating the outreach program’s success.

He offers us follow-up for last year's outreach and tells us that the patients were joyous. I ask him about a 9-year-old boy whom I remember operating on last year. Having been blind in both eyes at such a young age I was worried that he would have dense amblyopia, decreased vision due to abnormal development of the visual pathway during childhood. He tells me that just last week he saw the boy in clinic, and the boy was quite happy, running around playfully and seeing well with his new spectacles. The story eases my mind as I glance at my watch. We are cutting it close.

Our meeting with the head of eyecare at the Ghana Health Services office went even better than expected. Dr. Bo Wiafe, our primary partner in Accra and a national leader, presented two exciting initiatives to accelerate reversing needless blindness. Both were met with enthusiastic support and the promise of collaboration. These plans — creating a national outreach team and establishing pilot cataract-free districts — were forged between Dr. Wiafe and Dr. Seth Lartey, another important partner. Dr. Lartey is president of the Ophthalmology Society of Ghana and Head of the KATH Eye Unit, and I remember working alongside him when, years ago as my fellow, he became the first Ghanaian to perform a corneal transplant.

That night we all share dinner and iron out our vision for the future. Our collective excitement is palpable as we are galvanized by the promise of possibility. Before us lies a clear path to reversing blindness in Ghana. We have just taken momentous steps forward towards the tipping point.


Eliminating needless blindness in Nepal, Ethiopia, and Ghana

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