Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saint Lucia Strengthens Vision Care Services

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Vision care in Saint Lucia is expected to be improved as a result of a visit by a team from the Frimley Park Hospital UK, the Ministry of Health has announced.

The team visited Saint Lucia to provide training on the screening, grading and treatment of diabetic retinopathy. 

This training is expected to support the development of an island-wide vision care screening service.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sharon Belmar-George expressed hope that diabetic retinopathy services can be expanded to the Dennery and Soufriere hospital. 

“In terms of ensuring sustainability and strengthening our diabetic retinopathy programme which was implemented earlier this year, this is what the team is here to do,” Belmar-George told the Communications Unit of the Ministry of Health.

“We already provide the service in the north and south of the island, so we are looking to extend services to the Dennery and Soufriere hospital. So, this training for the extra officers will also provide us with more of our human resource officers trained to ensure the sustainability of the program here,” she stated.

Consultant ophthalmologist Dr. Geeta Menon expressed satisfaction with the progress Saint Lucia has made in its diabetic retinopathy screening service since its implementation in February 2018. 

“We are hoping that at the end of the workshop that the nurses will actually become really good graders. They will be able to pick out those patients that need treatment and faster admit to the hospital for laser treatment,” the Consultant ophthalmologist explained.

She  that as a result, patients can actually get prompt vision care treatment before they go blind.

“The thing we would want in the end is to actually prevent the diabetic retinopathy. So, one of the things we are doing is patient education- trying to get the patients to understand how they should actually change their diets so that they can actually prevent or reduce the progression of diabetic retinopathy.”

Currently, the Department of Health and Wellness provides diabetic retinopathy screening services at the Castries and Vieux-Fort Wellness Centres.

Laser treatment is also available at the Babonneau Wellness Centre.

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