Over 700 delegates are attending the four-day conference
(L-R) State Minister of Health for General Duties Sarah Opendi, Speaker of the Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, Uganda Opthalmology Society president Dr. Grace Ssali, and COECSA president Dr. Ibrahim Matende at the opening of the conference at Speke Resort Munyonyo. Photo by Miriam Namutebi
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has today opened a four-day international conference for eye doctors (ophthalmologists) from Asia, USA, Europe and African countries at Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort in Kampala.
Speaker after speaker in the conference made a passionate appeal to African governments to increase funding to the health sector to close the glaring gaps of inadequate specialized doctors.
The president of Uganda Ophthalmology Society Dr. Grace Ssali Nsibirwa had informed the participants that many African countries including Uganda have very few specialized doctors with Uganda having only 40 ophthalmologists attending to close to 40million people.
The chairperson of the conference Dr. Anne Ampaire Musika, who works with Makerere University's College of Health Sciences, reported that 5 out of the 15 regional hospitals which include Kabaale, Masaka, Mubende, Hoima, and the whole of Karamoja do not have a single eye specialist.
"Because we have inadequate ophthalmologists in the country, it means that roughly, each one of us has to attend to over one million people and yet the desired international target is that at least each should be attending to 250,000 people."
In their report, conference conveners attributed the low levels of specialized doctors to very limited government support for training and funding to eye care professionals.
The newly elected COECSA president Dr. Ibrahim Matende from South Africa who has taken over from Dr. Hassan Kunle from Nigeria, urged African governments to fund efforts to increase eye specialists and other specialized doctors if they care about the lives of their citizens.
Both Kadaga and the state minister for health Sarah Opendi emphasized the need for increased funding for training specialized doctors and increase their remuneration.
Kadaga argued that without government addressing the inadequate number of specialized doctors and other manpower requirements in the country; it would not be possible for vision 2020 and vision 2040 to be achieved.
The speaker cited a recent incident in which she was shocked that learn that over 24 districts in Eastern Uganda are served by only two neurosurgeons.
All speakers from Uganda (Kadaga, Opendi, Dr. Ssali and Dr. Ampaire) implored the 700 delegates who are attending the conference to tour the various tourism sites in Uganda to appreciate the saying that Uganda is the pearl of Africa.