CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - April 24, 2012) - Residents of Ghana's Central and Western Provinces will have access to high-quality eye care with the opening of the new Watborg Eye Services facility in Kasoa tomorrow.
Operation Eyesight Universal, a Canada-based international development organisation dedicated to the elimination of avoidable blindness, partnered with the Taylor family of Calgary, Canada and the Canadian International Development Agency to build the advanced secondary eye care facility in the Central Province. The Institute is led by Dr. Boateng Wiafe, a Ghanaian ophthalmologist and Operation Eyesight's regional director for Africa. The hospital will be part of a country-wide collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Government of Ghana to provide quality eye care to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.
"Watborg Eye Services will strengthen the country's primary eye care system and ensure that Ghanaians living in the area can access the best possible eye care. This is critical in the fight against avoidable blindness," says Pat Ferguson, president and CEO, Operation Eyesight. "The new facility is an outstanding example of what is possible when we work together with government and generous donors."
"It is easy for our family to make a donation from the comforts of Canada," explains Cameron Taylor. "However, it is the efforts of Operation Eyesight and, in particular, Dr. Wiafe that deserve the recognition. Without their tireless perseverance, our small gesture would lack the sustainability to make a real impact."
The new Watborg facilities will initially serve about one million residents in the surrounding areas, with the goal of expanding its reach over time. Services include medical and surgical care for those afflicted with eye diseases; training programs; outreach programs for school screening, diagnostic and treatment services; and education to increase the awareness of blindness as a major public health issue. The Institute is designed to be a model based on international standards that can be replicated elsewhere in Ghana and other African countries.
"The new Watborg hospital is going to fill a huge gap in eye care delivery services in the Central Region in particular and the country at large," says Hon. Alban S. K. Bagbin (MP), Ghana Minister of Health. "Outreach services from the hospital will also bring eye care services to the doorstep of the people, making it affordable and accessible."
World Health Organization statistics released in 2011 confirm that 80 percent of visual impairment is due to avoidable causes - problems that could be prevented, treated or cured using known and cost-effective methods. Of Ghana's 23 million residents, more than 200,000 are blind, most from avoidable causes.
Operation Eyesight is focused on building support for sustainable eye health initiatives among threatened populations in Africa and India. For the poor in these countries, visual impairment is more than a disability - it's a direct threat to life.
Operation Eyesight is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness in parts of the developing world. It works with medical professionals and communities in Africa and India to help provide quality eye care programs and sustainable community development. Since 1963, through the support of its donors, millions of the world's poorest people have had their sight restored or protected. To learn more about Operation Eyesight's work, visit www.operationeyesight.com.
Date and Time: April 25, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. local time
Address: Plot 101, Appia Junction, Kasoa - Winneba Road
Attendees: Dr. Boateng Wiafe, Operation Eyesight; Cameron Taylor, donor
Watborg Eye Services
- Construction on the new facility began in April 2011.
- The hospital is a three-storey building, with an outbuilding that houses the optical workshop and storeroom, an equipment maintenance shop and a kitchen/dining area.
- The ground floor features reception and waiting areas, a cashier's office, the ocular prosthesis department, two operating theatres, four examination rooms, two ambulance ports, a pharmacy, the medical records office and the optical department.
- The first floor is a 15-bed in-patient facility that includes a lobby, nurses' station, administrative offices and a conference room.
- The second floor has offices for the mobile team and a hostel for visiting students and interns.
- The hospital also has an outreach vehicle, which will be used to transport patients and outreach teams back and forth from the hospital. Outreach teams usually consist of an ophthalmologist, up to two cataract surgeons, two to three nurses and a driver.
Dr. Boateng Wiafe, Regional Director for Africa
- Dr. Boateng Wiafe has more than 25 years of experience in eye care and is recognized as an authority in the development of sustainable eye care in the African region.
- Dr. Wiafe has worked with Operation Eyesight since 1985 and has been an employee since 2006.
- He worked with the government in Zambia to develop and implement quality eye care. Dr. Wiafe set new standards in volume of surgeries, as well as piloting a model trachoma control program in 2001 which reduced the prevalence of trachoma from 50 to 5 percent. This program is being duplicated in other districts throughout Zambia and other trachoma-threatened areas in Africa.
- Dr. Wiafe has contributed several articles to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine's Community Eye Health Journal and served as a visiting lecturer and external examiner at the Ophthalmic Training Programme in Lilongwe, Malawi.
- He holds a M.Sc in community eye health from the International Centre for Eye Health, University of London, England, and an M.D. in general medicine and a Specialist Diploma in ophthalmology from the Institute of Medicine and Pharmacy, University of Lasi, Romania.