06.04.2005 General News

Optometry delegates' meeting opens

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Accra, April 6, GNA - Mr Sam Owusu-Agyei, Deputy Minister of Health, on Wednesday said the Ministry would pursue the review and promulgation of a law to regulate the practice of optometry in Ghana. He acknowledged that such a law was long overdue to weed out quacks, who operated with impunity and hurt the health of their innocent clients.

Mr Owusu-Agyei gave the assurance when he represented President John Kufuor and Health Minister, Major Courage Quashigah (rtd) at the opening of the World Council of Optometry (WCO) General Delegates' Meeting in Accra.

He said the Government was already working hard to make the two schools of Optometry at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi and University of Cape Coast to gain international recognition in all respects.

The Ghana Optometric Association (GOA) and the African Council of Optometry are hosting the five-day meeting, which would examine the WCO's strategic leadership in its "Vision 2020, the Right to Sight Programme".

It would also examine challenges and opportunities encountered in the Vision 2020 programme in Africa, the strategies and impact of serving special populations and integrating volunteerism into long-term sustainable projects.

Over 100 delegates from around the world, including Scandinavian countries, New Zealand, Australia, the Americas, South Africa and West African countries such as Mali, Ghana and Nigeria, are attending the meeting.

Mr Owusu-Agyei said efforts were also being made to supply all the major hospitals and later District hospitals with the necessary optical appliances and equipment to ensure that graduate optometrists were not frustrated in any way.

He noted that though optometry was an important subject or profession, very little attention had been paid to it with the result that Africa had the highest percentage of people suffering from cataract.

He said it was the hope of the Government that the vision of achieving preventable blindness by the year 2020, would be achieved to totally rid Africa of preventable blindness.

Dr Julius Darko, President, GOA, re-echoed the appeal to the MOH to ensure the establishment of Optometry Council in Ghana, to regulate the practice, as part of the development agenda of the Government. He also called on the Vehicle Examination and Licensing Division to strictly ensure that eye test certificates were endorsed by qualified and identified optometrists and ophthalmologists before drivers were issued with licences.

As part of activities, the Lions Club of Ghana organized a free eye screening for the delegates and students of some selected Special Schools for the mentally retarded. 06 April 05

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