Glaucoma is the second leading cause of avoidable blindness worldwide. It has a high prevalence, an early onset, and progresses more rapidly in black African compared to the white population. The World Glaucoma Week 2021 came at a moment the Health Ministry in partnership with Fred hollows Foundation (FHF) was hosting a four-day symposium to elaborate the National strategic plan for the prevention of blindness (2021-2025). At the end of this symposium, I have participated in raising awareness of glaucoma and education.
The Burundi Health Ministry through the Neglected Tropical Disease and Prevention of Blindness program in partnership with FHF has organized four days symposium to elaborate a 4-year National Strategic Plan for Fight against Blindness. At the end of the workshop, glaucoma awareness was raised to the Health Ministry staff in the presence of the representative of glaucoma patients and journalists (Public and private). The theme of the workshop was: “The world is bright, save your sight”. This event was organized in partnership with a local NGO (Conseil pour education et le Development: COPED). Glaucoma will be included as a priority disease along with cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, low vision, and refractive errors (Photo 1).
For the second event, education of glaucoma to eye care providers was organized. I have presented the results of a recent survey conducted on Glaucoma diagnostics and therapeutics means in Burundi. This study has found that Tonometer was not available in 33% of eye care services especially in rural areas (50%), and that intraocular pressure was not systematically measured in all patients attending an eye care service. Glaucoma medications were found to be expensive and therefore not affordable for uninsured patients and that not all the classes were not available (Photo 2).
Overall, a lot of work still needs to be done to make glaucoma services available and affordable for all Burundians. Including glaucoma in the National Strategic Plan for the Fight against Blindness will increase awareness of its devastating consequences, increase early detection, promote better management, and reduce glaucoma-related blindness in Burundi.
Dr. Adrien BIRONKWANINGUVU MD
Chief Ophthalmology officer