Consultant Ophthalmologist, Dr Hazel Shillingford-Ricketts said that Glaucoma has a significant impact on the health system since most of the newer and more effective eye medications are not free.
She made that remark during an interview in light of Glaucoma week observed from March 6-12.
“Glaucoma in Dominica is very prevalent, it is estimated to be about twelve percent because a very high percentage of our population are elderly people and we’re also black, which is another risk factor. Being black and ageing are two of the major risk factors and so you would expect Glaucoma to be very prevalent in our population,” she noted.
She stated this is having an impact on the health sector.
“It has a significant impact because the patients require medication to control their disease and although we provide some of the medication free of charge in the primary health sector most of the newer and more effective eye medications are not provided free of charge, and so the patients who have to use this medication, they have to purchase it,” she said. “Now they can either purchase it at the Central Medical Stores at the hospital or privately in the private pharmacies.”
She hopes in the near future the medication will be provided free of charge.
However, she said, it is not without a cost.
“We have already looked at the costing and it will increase our drug budget at the hospital by over a quarter million-dollars in addition to the other cost that are incurred to provide care at the hospital,” she explained.
According to her, attempts were made to assist patients by providing the medication at cost price at the hospital which is about 50 percent of the cost obtained in the private sector.
However, she stated, that there is still a disadvantage, “because they have to pay for it, it is only available at Central Medical Stores.”
“So irrespective of where the patients live in Dominica they have to find themselves to Roseau to buy the medication and that can be a deterrent to obtaining these forms of medication,” Dr. Shillingford-Ricketts stated.
Part of the activities for Glaucoma week include an address from the Minister of Health, Dr. Kenneth Darroux, radio programmes, lectures to patients, an exhibition at St Joseph displaying the various aspects of Glaucoma at St Joseph Health District and screening of patients.