Mozambique: Covid-19 Affected Cataract Surgeries in Mozambique

Maputo — The Mozambican Ministry of Health says that about 10,000 cataract surgeries were performed across the country in 2019, a milestone that fell sharply to only 5,000 interventions as result of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

Addressing reporters on Thursday in Maputo at the launch of the first World Report on Vision 2019, Mariamo Mbofana, director of the National Ophthalmology Programme, said that, despite the lingering challenges from Covid-19, the number of cataract surgeries, over the last four years, has grown by 25 per cent.

"Regarding the diagnostic capacity of our health sector, about 30,000 cases are diagnosed of which only one third are submitted to surgery," Mbofana said, pointing out that the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that for every million habitants 2,000 cataract surgeries should be conducted.

Presently, the country's rate of cataract surgery is nearly 300 surgeries for every million habitants, which poses a great challenge to a health sector still grappling with a dire shortage of human resources. Mozambique has only 34 ophthalmologists, of whom 24 are Mozambicans and 10 are foreigners.

Mariamo said that annually, the health sector records 500,000 out-patient ophthalmology consultations, dealing with vision problems such as cataract blindness, mainly among the elderly, glaucoma and trachoma, childhood blindness, and HIV related sight problems, most of which are curable and preventable.

As for trachoma, the second leading cause of blindness in Mozambique after cataracts, she said over 10,000 operations were carried out in 2019 and the problem affects mainly the central and northern regions of the country.

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