There are three levels of prevention of blindness. The primary level of prevention is meant to stop a blinding disease from occurring through measures like health education and creating awareness about disease and its prevention (Health Promotion). The secondary level is to prevent the disease from causing blindness through detection at an earlier stage while the tertiary level of prevention is aimed at restoration of useful sight following blindness by means of surgery, medicine or low vision devices. ACCO is endeavoring to fight against blindness at these three levels.
Level 1: Eye Health Promotion
ACCO has prepared booklets, slides, pamphlets and posters about the detection and prevention of all the major blinding diseases in Pakistan in both English and Urdu languages. Similar information is being disseminated through various radio and television programmes. Apart from eye health education, primary eye care training is also being imparted to various levels of health workers, community workers and social workers including teachers and others. These voluntary and integrated eye workers are playing very useful role in fighting against blindness at both primary and secondary levels. So far ACCO has distributed about 150,000 pamphlets/booklets and trained more than 8,000 voluntary, integrated and essential eye workers.
ACCO is running two different Programmes. The first one is for prevention of childhood blindness. We are carrying out screening of both the school age and pre-school age children for potentially blinding diseases like refractive error, squint, cataract, glaucoma and vitamin A deficiency. So far we have screened about one and a half million school going children and about 50,000 children below the age of five. We have found that 3-5% of the children are having defective vision and most of them can be helped with glasses. The other screening program is aimed at prevention of diabetes related blindness, which is going to feature as one of the major causes of blindness in near future. So far about 60,000 people above 40 years have been screened for potentially blinding diabetes. About 10% were found to have diabetes and one out of those ten suffering from diabetes were at risk of becoming blind. Presently we are conducting Tracuoma Rapid Assessment survey with the collaboration of WHO in two districts (Rawalpindi and Attock) of Punjab to identify the high risk zones, where Tracuoma related problems are endemic and to prioritize the communities for large scale interventions (Safe Interventions) to be planned. Moreover we have recently launched District Focus Strategy to establish comprehensive eye care services, which is particularly focused at the promotion of Cataract Surgical Service & IOL Implantation and appropriate refractive services at district and tehsil level. These services will be setup in 51 districts of Pakistan in three phases from 2002-2010.
Level 3: Curative activities (Tertiary Level)
Cataract is the major cause of blindness in Pakistan & worldwide. We need to do about 2300 cataract operations per million population per year as against that of 1100 being currently performed in Pakistan. Cost, inaccessibility or poor quality eye services and lack of awareness are the major obstacles. To counter these barriers in order to remove this cataract backlog, ACCO has adopted a unique strategy of carrying out screening of the patients for cataract in areas 150-200 km away, followed by transport of those patients selected for surgery to base hospital on the same day. The patients are operated the next day free of cost and sent home. So far we have screened and treated more than 400,000 patients through almost 1200 camps, out of which about 27,000 have undergone cataract operations free of cost. Simultaneously we are holding cataract surgical camps in far flung areas of the country and neighboring countries. Apart from cataract we are also treating the patients at community level for trachoma, eye infection of the newborn and vitamin A deficiency through provision of essential medicines.
Afghan patients frequently coming for free treatment at Al-Shifa Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of blindness prevalence in the world (2%). Only about 6,500 cataract operations are annually conducted against the blindness backlog of over 300,000 patients. Acute shortage of trained doctors, infrastructure and equipment are the major factors leading to this backlog. Early in the nineties, Al-Shifa Trust had conducted eye camps inside Afghanistan and also trained some Afghan doctors but it could not be continued duo to deteriorating law and order situation. However, Afghan patients coming from refugee camps from inside Pakistan as well as those coming Afghanistan have continuously been treated free of cost at Al Shifa.
In pursuance of this program, Al- Shifa Trust had recently arranged a surgical free eye camp at Jalalabad from 6‑12 April 2003. A team consisting of Eye Doctors and skilled paramedics conducted this camp and provided latest microsurgical and medical treatment to eye patients at Jalalabad (Ningarhar Province). During this camp over three thousands patients were treated and 317 major eye operations were performed successfully.
Guidance to patients ond Public, on Priamry Eye care health by Al-Shifa Professionals
Quality of service at high level, despite inadequate hospital and infrastructure conditions in this war-torn area.
Free Intra Ocualr Implants to all the patients.
In addition, over 1200 patients were provided free glasses
Medical students were given basic eye care training and health education at large was provided to public through lectures and talks on radio and newspapers.
Different view of camp activities in Jalalabad
During the camp a warm reception was given to the team Patients had come from far off area and were enthusiastically supportive. Most of the patients even requested to repeat the camp activities and asked for the schedule of next camps.
The camps are a major success for Al-Shifa and Pakistan. All concerned high officials of both countries visited the camp. These included HE, Counsel General of Pakistan Mr. S. Ziauddin Ali WHO Country representative Mr. Wahidi and regional Director General Health of Afghanistan, Mr. Fazal Mahmud Ibrahimi. Governer of province was extended special invitation to visit camp. He had aslo invited the doctors on dinner but due to his sudden commitments, it could not materialized. DG health appreciated the work of the team promised to visit Al-Shifa in next about 2-3 weeks for further collaboration between the two brother countries.
President Al-Shifa Trust and chairman Red Crescent Society of Pakistan Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Jahan Dad Khan along with one of the trustee Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Muhammad Nawaz was scheduled to visit the camp but unfortunately they met an accident en route to Jalalabad. The President Al-Shifa could not join the camp because of hospitilization but he was in continuous contact with the team to ensure quality services. President Al-Shifa plans to visit Afhghanistan on his recovery.
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Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospitals
of patients treated in Al-Shifa since inception 4,753,437(Last
Updated on May 04, 2008)