Over 1,000 residents – from Inchaban, Aboadze, Abuesi, Dwomo and Shama in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis and Shama district respectively in the Western Region – have benefitted from a health outreach programme organised by the West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCo).
“These communities house our pipeline onshore, and in a conversation with them it was realised that eye-care was critical and most of the clinics within these communities are not specialised – hence the need to organise this exercise which forms part of our corporate social responsibility,” External Relations Manager of WAPCo, Mark Kofi Mensah, told the media at Shama.
Already, he said, some communities in Tema, Kpone and Accra have also benefitted from the company’s outreach programme.
“We are given free medications and eye glasses to them; we started with education and preventive processes for different kinds of diseases, among others,” he said.
According to him, the company’s community development programmes are large: “Our company started with brick and mortar, whereby we built schools, sanitation and health facilities.
“Also, we have skills development programmes wherein some of the youth have acquired vocational training for them to be self-employed.”
Dr. Gladys Fordjour, Ophthalmologist with the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, explained during the screening that cataracts are the most prevailing disease.
“We have seen some cases of glaucoma and some allergies, and a few other issues where we have systemic diseases affecting the eyes; these are diabetes, hypertension and goitre as well as general age-related diseases, which include cataracts as well.
“The simple ones we can treat have been given medication and others that we cannot treat have been referred; there is quite a number that needs surgery for cataracts,” she said.
She explained that cataracts are the number-one cause of blindness, and commonest cause is aging – meaning everyone can get cataract.
“Once you grow old, you can get cataracts; but if you grow much more, it will blind your eyes; the good news is that once you take the cataracts off, you can see again,” she explained.
She added that it is glaucoma that causes blindness, and there is nothing that the individual can do about it “because it has no symptoms and pain. So, if you do not pick it up then it means you are growing blind; that is why we organising the screening to pick out the silent causes of these diseases”.
“If there is any family history of blindness then, you need to have your eyes checked regularly; if you are around age 40, then you need to get your eyes checked regularly – but the commonest of the cataracts start at age 30. Also, if you have diabetes and hypertension, you need to check your eyes regularly,” she further explained.