VISION 2020 IN DAVAO ZOOM IN ON PUBLIC HEALTH OPTOMETRY
Physicians for Peace - Philippines:
Advocacy Seminar Workshop Focuses on Optometrists’ Role in Blindness Prevention
A Vision 2020 Advocacy Seminar-Workshop will be held at the Grand Men Seng Hotel (Magallanes St.) on July 15, 2012. “ENGAGING THE OPTOMETRIST IN COMMUNITY EYE CARE” is the theme of the event. It is being organized by the Optometric Association of the Philippines(OAP) with the Davao City Optometric Society as host. The event is sponsored by the Physicians for Peace Philippines (PFP) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) through the National Committee for Sight Preservation (NCSP).
In many countries, optometrists have been acknowledged as the main providers of primary eye care. Unfortunately, in the Philippines, they are not included in the government’s primary health care team which is normally composed of doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, sanitary inspectors, medical technologists and barangay health workers. “Gusto ko po sana ulit makakita para makapag-aral at magkatrabaho pero wala po akong pambili ng salamin.” (I would like to be able to see again so I can study and work but I do not have money to buy eyeglasses). This is the common response of Filipinos who belong to the worldwide population of about 45 million blind and 135 million with poor vision. This totals to about 180 million visually impaired which includes around 1.4 million blind children who are under sixteen. Ninety percent of the world’s blind people live in developing countries which include the Philippines. Although eighty percent of blindness is preventable, the lack of primary eye care services in the community make this an important health issue that needs to be addressed.
The Third National Survey on Blindness conducted by the UP Institute of Ophthalmology from October, 2001 to May, 2002 shows that the leading cause of bilateral blindness (0.58%) is cataract while the main cause of visual impairment(1.43%) is due to uncorrected refractive errors (URE). Based on an estimated 2002 population of 79,503,675, there were 461,121 blind in both eyes and 1,136,903 visually impaired. With a Blindness Prevention Program that is focused mainly on cataract, the figures for URE and childhood blindness is expected to double by the year 2020.
As the number of Filipinos who are blind or visually impaired continue to grow, the quality of learning of school children, the productivity of office workers and the labor sector, and the capacity of the elderly for self care are diminished. Thus, optometrists see the urgent need to reach out to more visually impaired people through their involvement in community eye care programs. Blindness is a very impoverishing condition but it can be readily addressed by institutionalizing primary eye care programs. The nation’s vision for economic advancement is imperiled when its citizens have poor vision.
It would be difficult for the government’s Prevention of Blindness Program to succeed in the areas of refractive error and childhood blindness if optometrists will not be included in the team of primary health care providers in the community. All optometrists are welcome to the event. Featured speakers are Mr. Robert Lane, President of Physicians for Peace Philippines; Dr. Noel Chua, Chairman of NCSP; Prof. Buenalyn Ramos-Mortel of the UP College of Public Health; Ms. Ellen Villate, NCSP-DOH National Eye Program Coordinator; Ms. Lyne Abanilla, PFP Executive Director; Dr. Cora Sipin, former Board Examiner and currently OAP Vice-President; Ms. Tina Raymundo, DOH Prevention of Blindness Program Manager and Dr. Net Soltura, PFP Trustee and OAP Chairman of Task Force for Sight Preservation.
The following may be contacted for details: Dr. Tom Jamora (09329398942; 09063316744); Dr. Alexis Jamora (09228006441; 09096666051); Dr. Liza Donillo (09228638209; 09156538376) and Dr. Eldeen Baluso (09228277740). REGISTRATION IS FREE.
Benita M. Soltura, RPh, OD,FPCO, MPH (Cand.)
Optometric Association of the Philippines