Glaucoma is the second major cause of blindness in many countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. It was estimated that glaucoma is responsible for between 15-30% of blindness in most of these countries, with the disease having a prevalence of between 2%-6% among people 40 years and older. The Glaucoma in many parts of Sub Saharan Africa manifests a different mode of presentation, progression, aggressiveness, response to treatment and prognosis from the Glaucoma known elsewhere. Available data suggests that glaucoma presents at an earlier age and progresses more aggressively than Glaucoma in other parts of the world. Furthermore the disease tends to be more resistant to both medical and surgical treatments. Many Glaucoma patients in Africa present so late when the disease is so advance that visual impairment is irreversible thus permanent. It has been reported that 50% of patients present when one eye is already blind due to either ignorance or non-availability of services. As age is a major risk factor to the disease, the increasing life expectancy in most countries of the region means that the burden of the disease is likely to increase in the in next decades with consequent increased in irreversible blindness, if the current trend of limited and inadequate control measures remains.
In view of these it has become necessary that effective strategy to address this scourge in Africa is needed, as soon as possible if the goals of the global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness by the year 2020- VISION 2020: ‘The Right to Sight’ are to be achieved in the next decade. This point was highlighted at the PBU sponsored VISION 2020 Africa meeting that was held in March 2009 in Bahrain, where major stakeholders for eye care in Africa brainstormed for 2 days to make recommendations towards acceleration of VISION 2020 activities in Africa. A major recommendation of this meeting was to convene a workshop of regional experts to discuss control of glaucoma in Africa.
Last year in Accra, Ghana a major Glaucoma meeting had discussed Glaucoma control in Africa. Though aspects of public health control were discussed most of the deliberations were on clinical approach to Glaucoma.
PBU in collaboration with IAPB Africa is planning to hold a public health control workshop for glaucoma in Africa to set up strategies that may control the high level of glaucoma visual loss in the region. The workshop will build upon some of the earlier discussions in previous meetings.
1. Review the current status in terms of magnitude, distribution, types of Glaucoma and control
measures for Glaucoma visual loss in the region
2. Review recent advances in the public health control of glaucoma and appropriate models for
application in Africa including role of screening
3. Outline priorities in the control of glaucoma visual loss in Africa.
4. Identify gaps and resources for glaucoma control services including HRD, Health
education and research
5. Identify strategies for control of glaucoma visual impairment in the region based on public health principles.
6. Provide a strategic direction into development of comprehensive glaucoma services
Major Expected Outcomes
• Strategies for public health control of glaucoma visual impairment in Africa
• Identification of resources ( human resource, centers and financial) and
HRD programs for Glaucoma
• Identification of appropriate Awareness/ Health Education and research to tackle problem
• Advocacy efforts for Glaucoma services in Africa
• Strategy for comprehensive glaucoma service
Experts in Glaucoma, public health ophthalmology and program management in the region, IAPB Africa, WHO Afro, NGOs in the region , Professional bodies, Training institutions, Patients group.