Survey ties women, blindness


Women are twice more likely to become blind than men in the country, ophthalmologist Dr Amyna Sultan says.
She said according the Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness survey that was completed in April, about 40,000 Papua New Guineans had visual impairment and of that, 61 per cent were women.
“We also know that the majority of prevalence of blindness is in the Highlands, so the accessibility to eyecare is something that we really need to work on,” Sultan said.
“This is where partnerships come in because the Government and the Department of Health try to do their bit, but this is also where NGOs and civil society can work together to participate in getting eye care services accessible to the remote population.”
PNG Eye Care general manager Samuel Koim said the annual Blind Walk on Oct 8 was organised to raise awareness on the causes of avoidable blindness.
This year, the walk was organised by Port Moresby Lions Club.
The club carries out many projects to improve the lives of Papua New Guineans.
“The prevalence of blindness is 5.6 per cent in people aged 50 years and over,” Koim said.
“This means that about 40,746 people in PNG are blind in both eyes and 67, 987 people are blind in one eye.
“It was saddening to know also during the survey that most people who were blind were unaware that treatment was possible.
“Cataract surgical coverage and spectacle coverage is below World Health Organisation recommended levels. This is an emergency.”