Thursday, July 12, 2012
The following is an excerpt from a speech by the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fuad Khan at the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Congress of the Ophthalmological Society of the West Indies at the Hyatt Regency held on Wednesday 11th July, 2012:
..."My dear colleagues, as you know, Diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancers account for four out of the five leading causes of death in Trinidad and Tobago, and these Chronic Non Communicable Diseases or CNCDs, are responsible for sixty percent of all deaths in our country. In addition, Trinidad and Tobago has the disquieting honour of being the country with the highest rate of diabetes in the Caribbean, with a prevalence rate among adults of approximately 12% - 13%, that is, 1 in 8 adults has diabetes (and this may be as high as 1 in 5).
Diabetes is not only a major cause of admissions to our hospitals, as there are many health complications linked to the disease but according to World Health Organization reports, after 15 years of diabetes, approximately 2% of people become blind, and about 10% develop severe visual impairment.
The large numbers of the population presenting with cataracts is also linked to this high prevalence of diabetes in Trinidad and Tobago. Cataracts and glaucoma have been found to be twice as common in patients presenting with diabetes than those without it.
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan addresses the attendees at the OSWI 2012 Congress
The Ministry of Health continues to push ahead with its agenda to curb these Chronic Non Communicable Diseases through its national Fight the Fat initiative, which aims to educate the national community about chronic non communicable diseases and the importance of leading healthy lifestyles, and knowing their personal health statistics. As the year progresses you will continue to hear more about this programme as we embark on a more high profile mass media campaign. We also have a grand, exciting, but very healthy event planned at the Queen’s Park Savannah on August 12th in observation of our nation’s 50th independence anniversary. Keep checking the print and other media for more details. I hope to see you all there!
However, to minimise the existing backlog of patients waiting for cataract surgery, the Ministry of Health has been engaging in public/private health sector partnerships to decrease the cataract waiting list. I am pleased to share that last week a 3-year Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Ministry of Health, the South-West Regional Health Authority and the University of Utah, John A. Moran Eye Center. This MOU establishes an institutional partnership with the San Fernando General Hospital for the ongoing training and transfer of knowledge on Corneal Transplantation, Small Incision Cataract Surgery (SICS) and Macular/Retina and Paediatric Ophthalmology. This sustained Subject Matter Expert Exchange will lay the foundation for the San Fernando General Hospital to become an area of advanced eye care and a “Centre of Excellence in Ophthalmology” for the Caribbean and Central America region.
A cross section of the attendess at the 2012 Congress of OSWI
The MOU is part of the continuing cooperation in the area of eye care between the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the Ministry of Health, University of Utah’s John A. Moran Eye Center and the U.S. Army which has been ongoing since 2008. Designed as a train the trainer programme, the programme’s intent is to reduce the cost and waiting times for cataract and corneal transplant surgeries by teaching a few doctors from a country with these techniques, then having them pass on their skills to other doctors in their homeland.
Some major milestones of the MOU are:
In March, 2010, Drs. Ronnie Bhola and Anil Armoogum of the San Fernando General Hospital participated in a Training Fellowship at the Tilganga Eye Hospital (Nepal) under Dr. Geoffrey Tabin from the University of Utah, John A. Moran Eye Center. The tutorage transferred Small-Incision Extracapsular Cataract Surgery (SICS) knowledge to Trinidad and Tobago.
In February, 2011, Dr. Tabin participated in a U.S. Army sponsored Subject Matter Expert Exchange at the Eric Williams Medical Centre (EWMSC) and demonstrated Corneal Transplant and Complicated Cataract Surgeries to Drs. Bhola and Armoogum, and local ophthalmologists, optometrists, doctors, nurses and other medical staff from both the public and private sector.
(3) Corneal transplants and (39) Small-Incision Extracapsular Cataract surgeries or SICS were done at the Subject Matter Expert Exchange at the EWMSC and SICS was launched as a new cataract operational model.
In 2012, both Drs. Bhola and Armoogum will participate in the University of Utah, John A. Moran Eye Center sponsored Observer Fellowship in Macular/Retina and Paediatric Ophthalmology at the University of Utah’s John A. Moran Eye Center
Since March 2011, the Ministry of Health has implemented cataract project support and has renovated the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) Eye Clinic with two fully equipped ophthalmic surgical suites.
As part of our ongoing efforts to reduce the existing cataract surgery waiting list, I have implemented a programme to accelerate the number of surgeries being performed each month. These persons on the existing cataract surgery waiting list will be sent by the Ministry of Health to a private sector institution to have the surgery done, and the cost will be covered by the Ministry. So again, I am appealing to all citizens who have been scheduled for cataract surgery after June 2012, please collect and submit a request for surgery form at our Head Office or online at www.health.gov.tt."...
To download the entire speech, please click here