MUST unveils the Glaucoma Screening and Treatment Project.

On 25th July 2022, the Department of Ophthalmology unveiled the Glaucoma Screening and Treatment project for South Western Uganda that will end in December 2024. The 2 billion UGX project funded by the Christian Blind Mission (CBM) aims at contributing towards the health system strengthening to provide glaucoma screening and care in the South Western region of Uganda.
Dr. Arunga Simon with Christian Blind Mission (CBM) team.
Glaucoma is a major cause of visual impairment and blindness by causing progressive damage to the optic nerve, a vital structure responsible for transmitting images from the back of the eye to the brain for interpretation. The burden of glaucoma is highest in Sub Saharan Africa where the prevalence is estimated to be 4%, twice the global average. “In Uganda we have many people who are at very serious risk of going blind because of the condition. Glaucoma is more serious than even diabetes but not everyone knows about it. People go to the hospital when it is too late and doctors can do less to help them. Part of the reason is that the condition doesn’t cause any pain or make the eye red” said Dr. Simon Arunga the Principal Investigator of the GLAST project.
Ms. Allen Asiimwe showing guests a low cost equipment used in screenig of glaucoma.
The focus of the project is to;
1] develop and deliver a glaucoma sensitisation and awareness campaign
2] build capacity of 3 Regional Referral Hospitals (Masaka Regional Referral Hospital, Kabale Regional Referral Hospital and Fort portal Regional Referral Hospital) to provide basic glaucoma diagnosis and treatment
3] build capacity of 25 health centre four level facilities to screen for glaucoma
4] screen 100,000 adults for glaucoma and
5] to diagnose and treat 2,000 new glaucoma patients.
Mr. Byaruhanga Melchoir, MUST and CBM team at the project.
The project will start by conducting a baseline assessment of the capacity of the health system to manage glaucoma. As part of Regional institutional building, the project has offered eye equipment that will support the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma at Mbarara University and Referral Hospital Eye Centre (MURHEC), Masaka Regional Referral Hospital, Kabale Regional Referral Hospital and Fort portal Regional Referral Hospital.
Giving his remarks, Dr. John Onyango, the Head of Department and Co-PI of the GLAST Project appreciated the equipment got. “The equipment will benefit us in many ways; we have always had problems screening patients for glaucoma because we did not have advanced equipment and with this donation many of our patients will now be screened properly and receive treatment for glaucoma. We are also going to conduct several eye surgeries and as a teaching University our students who are trained to become eye specialists will have the advanced and standard training in eye examination and eye surgery,” Dr. Onyango said.
Group photo after the unveiling of the GLAST Project
The CBM team was led by Dr. Demissie Tadesse – the Regional Advisor East African Region, Mr. Fabian Schindler – the International Programme Manager and Ms. Jackie Marlene Kwesiga Kagombe – the CBM Country Director. Ms. Kwesiga appreciated the initial achievements so far attained and pledged continued support to MUST to address eye health challenges. “The main aspects of the project are; procurement of high eye-tech equipment, buying consumables, medicine as well as capacity building for health workers. They are also going to do research to find other challenges affecting the communities” Ms. Kwesiga remarked.
Some of the equipment that will be used during the project.
Dr. Demissie Tadesse was grateful that CBM funded the GLAST project that will tackle a critical area that has not been given much attention. He emphasized the need for massive sensitisation to enable the population understand glaucoma and how it can be treated. MUST University Secretary, Mr. Melchoir Byaruhanga hailed the collaboration saying the project is very helpful to the community members in the region, many of whom rely on local herbs as treatment for their eye conditions. He thanked CBM for the support they have always given the Department of Ophthalmology in offering student scholarships, staff capacity building and towards the construction of the MURHEC.
The GLAST Project indeed advances MUST’s niche of community engagement.
Succeed We MUST !