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May 31, 2010

A new vision to help prevent blindness

joan musa

From the number of people who attended the recent screening clinics for the Venezuelan Mission Miracle, it is clear that there is a high instance of eye ailments in Belize. A number of people are eventually blinded by their eye conditions; but the Pan American Health Organization and the Ministry of Health are teaming up to create a National Eye Health Plan to address that growing issue. That’s because it has been found that eighty percent of the cases of blindness could be prevented if the conditions are properly treated. Stakeholders in the eye care profession attended a consultations at the Radisson to gather relevant information and start the planning process. News Five spoke to the Director of the Belize Center for the Visually impaired, Joan Musa, and PAHO’s regional advisor on the prevention of blindness, Juan Carlos Silva. Musa says the plan is a much needed and welcomed initiative

Joan Musa, Director, B.C.V.I.

“This consultation is a meeting of everybody; all the stakeholders concerned with eye care. So we have people from the Ministry of Health, the pan American Health Organization. They are the organizer of this forum. Then we have other organizations that deliver eye care or have a special interest in eye care. For example the Counsel for Ageing, the Lions Club of Belize, HECOPAB and other organizations.”

Juan Carlos Silva, Regional Advisors, Prevention of Blindness, PAHO

jaun carlos silva

“The aim of this consultation is to produce a National strategic plan that frames all the activities that are happening in the prevention of blindness and focus on the priorities for the future.”

Delahnie Bain

“So what kind of information are you hoping to get from having this consultation?”

Juan Carlos Silva

“We will get different types of information. First, as I mentioned, the priorities of action and then the expected outcomes that we are looking for and then some activities that need to be implemented and who will be responsible within the group for implementing each of those expected results.”

Joan Musa

“We’re looking at a plan that will cover the next five years and we’re taking a human rights based approached because everyone is entitled to health care and you eye health is part of your overall health care. So we’re hoping to make some steps in increasing people’s access. That is increasing the number of clinics, the availability even in the most remote of areas. BCVI over the years has developed a service that covers the whole country and we also do mobile clinic into the remote areas. But if we join hands along with the government health clinic, along with the other agencies that are out there, we will be much more effective and it can be a relationship where we share activities so it can be more cost effective and more people would be able to receive the care.”

Silva is working with thirty different countries to implement National Eye Health Plans and says Belize’s existing programs are on par with other nations.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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