total of 13 students, Friday graduated in different fields and levels at the
Regional Ophthalmic Training Programme (ROTP), held at the Ebunjan Theatre in
Serrekunda on the theme: The challenge of diabetic retinopathy blindness and
role of public private partnership in addressing it.
Addressing the graduates, National Eye Health programme manager Saijo Kanyi said the national eye health program is recognised globally as a role model following Gambia’s conduction of two national surveys on blindness in 1986 and 1996 with a prevalence rate of 0.7% to 0.4%.
He said the focus of the program was the vision 2020 on the right to sight with three component of cost effective service delivery at all levels and human resources development building capacity cadres with infrastructure and appropriate technology base.
Mr. Kanyi said a pilot project was launched at the Farafenni General Hospital and after six months of implementation, it was deemed successful. “Lessons learnt from Farafenni were improved and rolled out to the rest of the country. Within a period of 5 years, NEHP in collaboration with One Sight were able to establish and launch 7 vision centers in Brikama, Bwiam, Soma, Farafenni and Bansang,” he said.
He said the aim of the Gambia trachoma programme is to eliminate Trachoma by the year 2020, which he said is the leading cause of infectious eye disease, which has now been reduced from 17% to 3.6% in January 2019.
Course coordinator Pierre Mendy said students are going through several challenges at the center, including language barrier which, he said is still a handicap for the students and accommodation in the secondary center.
Mr. Mendy appealed to hospital heads to make adequate provision to accommodate students, saying mobility is also a big challenge that is limiting some of their activities.
Gideon Tenty, one of the graduates urged his colleagues to maintain the spirit of teamwork that they have been doing.