THE West African Gas Pipeline Company limited (WAPCo) has held its annual specialised medical care for host communities in Kpone and Tema Manhean in the Greater Accra Region.
The annual healthcare programme, which provides free eye-screening, was held in collaboration with eye specialists from the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.
The programme sought to fill in the gap in high demand by members of the host communities with eye problems but who have no access to specialist care.
More than 500 beneficiaries received care, with some provided medicated glasses, eye-drops and other medicines. Those with more severe conditions needing further attention were referred to the Tema General Hospital and Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
The Eye Specialist in charge of the outreach programme, Dr. Gladys Fordjour, said some of the cases that came up included cataracts – which leads to a decrease in vision.
“It often develops slowly, and could affect one or both eyes,” she said.
Other diagnoses, she said, were refractive errors, allergies and a few cases of glaucoma. “I must say these were pretty serious cases that needed further attention.”
Fordjour said the eye-screening exercise instituted by WAPCo was timely, “as some of the cases that came to us here were quite serious, and we have taken care of them and referred them to Tema General and Korle-Bu Teaching hospitals for further care.
“I must say that we have strongly advised those we have referred to make sure they visit the hospital, since failure to do that could lead to blindness; while we also advises others on proper eyeecare”, she said.
Dr. Fordjour said most of the health facilities in communities do not have specialised eye services, thus making WAPCo’s outreach programme very important.
She said what’s important now is to ensure many of the patients living in areas remote from specialist services make it a point to regularly visit facilities such as Tema General Hospital and Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital for checkups.
An opinion leader from one of the beneficiary communities, Mr. William W. Atiapah, said the medical outreach was critical owing to close proximity of the area to industrial activities in Tema – which mostly generate a lot of smoke and dust, coupled with fish processing that also emits smoke.
“We have a health facility, but these are specialised services that are not readily available here for the people in the community to access. For eye-care, we rely on the benevolence of companies such as WAPCo”, he said.
He expressed the hope that other industries within the Tema-Kpone industrial enclave will in future consider specialised medical services for the people within their catchment areas.
Mr. Atiapah also encouraged those referred to Tema General and Korle-Bu hospitals to treat their situations as urgent, and advise all others of the need to abide by the specialists’ good counsel.
The External Relations Manager of WAPCo, Mr. Mark K. Mensah, said WAPCo identified the medical outreach as a critical intervention that was agreed upon through consultations with members of the beneficiary communities.
The communities selected have some appreciable health care facilities, but lack specialised services such as optometry – even though poor eyesight and related conditions are common.
“We identified the eye problems as a challenge during one of our interactions with the schools, and realised that some students and pupils are always called to be seated in front. Our probe revealed that they cannot see from afar,” he said.
He said the sad aspect is that those children who had eye problems were unaware of their conditions – a situation that is also manifest among some adults in the communities.
Mr. Mensah also expressed concern about the emerging cases of glaucoma, saying: “The sad part of glaucoma is that it does not show any symptoms until it’s too late, which has resulted in many losing their sight.
“Therefore, realising that there are varied eye-problems in our host communities with no specialist services, we, after broad consultations, agreed with the people to provide annual eye-care for them – and it has helped greatly.”
The company, he said, aside from medical care in the Greater Accra Community Centre at Aboadze, built a clinic and maternity facility for a community in Tema, a school and teachers’ quarters for Kpone, as well as instituted a scholarship programme for brilliant but needy children.
“We also have support extended to students pursuing various programmes in the universities and those who want to go into vocational training; WAPCo designed a scheme called the Community Youth Enterprise Scheme (CYES) to support them in that direction, and supports with tools to start a business,” he said.
Aside from the Kpone and Tema Manhean engagements, he said: “We will also extend the scheme to another five communities and their surroundings in the Shama district of the Western Region”.