Health officials from central and Central Highlands provinces met in Hue city on August 21 to draft a plan for blindness prevention for the region.

The event, co-hosted by the Vietnam National Steering Committee for Prevention of Blindness (VNSCPB) and Vietnam National Institute of Ophthalmology (VNIO), is among activities to respond to the programme “Vision 2020” initiated by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

VNSCPB’s report at the workshop shows that blindness prevalence in 16 surveyed provinces and cities in 2007 was 3.1 percent. Leading causes of blindness are cataract (66.1 percent), followed by retinopathy, glaucoma, refractive error, and trachoma.

Meanwhile, health workers are in short supply in mountainous and Central Highlands regions.

The lack of doctors and nurses specialised in ophthalmology at district-level clinics is a huge challenge for the eye health service in Vietnam , it said.

The workshop worked on designing a programme and detailed action plan for provinces and cities from Thanh Hoa to Ninh Thuan, which will serve as a basis for a national plan for blindness prevention.

Participants at the workshop agreed to strengthen the training of eye health workers, develop eye care services, as well as provide the necessary eye care equipment for clinics at provincial, district and grassroots level.

They emphasised the need to improve access to comprehensive eye care services, ensuring that all people can access to the services regardless of age, gender and social class; as well as raise public awareness about eye disease prevention and treatment.

In 2013, WHO and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) put forth a Global Action Plan for 2014-2019 with an overall goal of reducing the prevalence of avoidable visual impairment by 25 percent by the year 2019 from the baseline of 2010.-VNA