|The survey found that 7.6 per cent of every 10,000 Vietnamese children were blind, compared with 7 per cent per 10,000 globally. — Photo baobinhduong
HA NOI (VNS) — A recent survey on paediatric eye care released yesterday by the Ministry of Health's Health Strategy and Policy Institute (HSPI) showed big obstacles and gaps in paediatric eye care services in Viet Nam.
The survey was conducted by experts from HSPI and the Viet Nam National Institute of Ophthalmology (VNIO) in Ha Noi, Thai Nguyen, Thua Thien-Hue, Da Nang, Kon Tum, Binh Dinh, HCM City and Can Tho from August to November 2014.
The survey found that 7.6 per cent of every 10,000 Vietnamese children were blind, compared with 7 per cent per 10,000 globally. The number of blind boys was four times higher than that of girls, it found. The major causes of the problem in Viet Nam included refractive errors, corneal scarring, posterior segments and orbit abnormality.
"Viet Nam has around 12.6 million children, but there are only four medical centres specialising in paediatric eye care," said Vu Thi Minh Hanh, vice director of HSPI. "They are at VNIO in Ha Noi and in Hue, Da Nang and HCM City. Only 10.9 per cent of children with refractive errors (RE) were screened and only 14.8 per cent of RE children were prescribed glasses."
The survey said that the State budget for paediatric eye care was limited and the main financial sources were hospital fees, health insurance funds and international support. And many paediatric eye care services hadn't been paid by the health insurance funds.
"The country has only 8 optometrists who have been trained for 4 years, much lower than the Vision 2020 expectation of 4 per 1 million people," Hanh said.
Eye care treatment is unevenly distributed in Viet Nam, according to the survey. About 87 per cent of ophthalmologists are working in urban areas, 86 per cent of eye care professionals work at the provincial level, 11 per cent work at the district level and 2 per cent work at the communal level, according to the survey.
Hanh said that paediatric eye care manpower is limited both in term of quantity and quality, due to shortcomings in training and incentives. The country has only 40 paediatric ophthalmologists nationwide.
The country has 1,500 eye doctors, including 200 doctors from private hospitals, according to the survey. And 2,224 assistant doctors and nurses specialise in ophthalmology. However, only 40 of the 1,500 eye doctors specialise in paediatric eye care.— VNS