Minister of Health, John Boyce. (FP)

The backlog of public patients awaiting cataract surgery at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is of concern to the Ministry of Health and will be high on the list of agenda items when Minister of Health, John Boyce meets with the body representing ophthalmologists.

Addressing the 27th annual congress of the Ophthalmological Society of the West Indies which opened at the Hilton today, Mr. Boyce said that the major causes of blindness in the Caribbean were non-operated cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and uncorrected refractive errors.

He noted that up to 2009, Cuba assisted Barbadians requiring cataract surgeries through the Barbados/Cuba Eye Care Initiative. When that programme was halted in 2010 however, there was a waiting list of about 676 persons.

According to the Health Minister, addressing the backlog “presents a logistical challenge for the technical resources of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, as well as a financial concern for the Ministry of Health.”

Mr. Boyce revealed that in 2015, more than 1600 eye surgeries were performed at the QEH, of which about 900 dealt with cataract. Other surgeries included glaucoma, corneal, vitreoretinal, ophthalmic paediatric and oculoplastic.

The Government Minister said that the Ministry of Health was committed to playing a leading role in implementing the National Eye Care Policy and Strategic Plan 2014 – 2019.

This plan, drafted in collaboration with private and public sector stakeholders, provides a framework to eliminate avoidable blindness and visual impairment; and to provide rehabilitation opportunities for those living with blindness and low vision.

Its goals are the integration of eye care services in the national health strategy, improvement of the overall management of eye care services and increasing public knowledge on preventable causes of blindness and visual impairment.

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