Notable Progress in Ghana with highlight on National Cataract Outreach Program
Piloted in 2017, the National Cataract Outreach Program (NCOP) is a partnership between the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP) and Ghana’s Ministry of Health, whereby Ghana Health Services (GHS) organizes outreach events in all regions implemented by trained ophthalmic teams. The Program seeks to establish a sustainable national outreach effort that incentivizes Ghanaian eye care service providers to eliminate the cataract backlog while making quality surgery accessible to everyone in the country.
To show its dedication to the program, GHS has committed three staff members - an optometrist, ophthalmic nurse and biomedical engineer - to participate in HCP-supported outreach activities to ensure adherence to standards developed by the NCOP founding committee members. The GHS staff members have also designed training modules to be offered to ophthalmic teams throughout the country in order to raise the quality of care.
HCP has invested in the success of the NCOP by purchasing cataract surgical kits that can be borrowed by ophthalmic teams for NCOP and HCP partner-organized cataract surgical interventions so multiple workstations are operational, while also providing specialized training opportunities to eye care personnel at all levels of ophthalmology.
NCOP is unique in that it brings together service providers from the public and private sectors - both of whom are eligible to be reimbursed for eye care services provided by the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP). Ideally, the reimbursements from NHIP will be higher than the cost of surgery through efficiencies. Any surplus is to be invested in activities that will enhance eye care such as purchasing ophthalmic supplies or repairing equipment. GHS is working hard to promote the program by visiting regional bureaus of health to ensure collaboration in all 16 regions and to help recuperate reimbursements from surgeries provided in the first three years of the program.
In addition to supporting outreach events arranged by NCOP, HCP has partnerships with 14 individual implementing partners from the public and private sectors. HCP collects data on post-operative visual acuity from outreach events to assess quality of service provided. We are pleased to report that each year the surgical quality improves and the amount of data collected increases.