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Glaucoma program provides better prevention and treatment to rural residents | Updated: 2018-12-13 14:51

A health program has delivered huge benefits to rural residents living with glaucoma, enabling them to better fight against the disease through more effective prevention and treatment efforts.

Launched on July 30, the four-month-long program screened 50,000-odd rural residents, identified 1,200 suspect cases, and diagnosed nearly 500 cases; and, offered free medicine for around 500 patients and free surgery and laser treatment for 45 patients. In addition, it consisted of training programs for 400 community-level physicians and an awareness campaign that reached out to more than 50,000 local residents.

Glaucoma program provides better prevention and treatment to rural residents

The largest of its kind by coverage, it is a cooperation program of the China Foundation for Disabled Persons and Tianjin Medical University, backed by the support of local partner hospitals. It is designed to boost the wellbeing of rural glaucoma patients in ten regions, including Sichuan, Chongqing, Ningxia, Jiangsu, Shaanxi, Heilongjiang, Shanxi, Shandong, Henan and Liaoning.

Glaucoma program provides better prevention and treatment to rural residents

In the early stage, the program consisted of an epidemiological survey of glaucoma among 8,345 rural residents across Tianjin, and a screening program for 5,132 residents and medical inventions for 37 confirmed cases in Beizhen City, Liaoning province. The insights generated helped program organizers develop targeted models of screening, prevention, treatment, and education for rural areas. As the program was scaled up across the ten regions, more insights into rural glaucoma patients were garnered, and training and awareness programs were launched for local physicians and residents respectively, which contributed much to local capacity-building.

Glaucoma program provides better prevention and treatment to rural residents

The success of the program also owes much to the support of government authorities at state and regional levels, including the National Health Commission and local governments, who made plans that ensured the sound operation of the program. More important, they collectively facilitated the coordination of personnel, equipment and schedules, and created solutions to problems on the ground in an efficient manner, which contributed to the impressive performance of the program.

At the same time, health workers on the frontline did a tremendous job in reaching out to the patients and the wider communities. Despite inadequate transportation and living conditions in some regions, they acted with a strong sense of commitment and resilience in offering treatment and screening programs, thus delivering tangible social benefits.

As the next step, the organizers will conduct etiological study of glaucoma in these regions and provide medical intervention for confirmed cases. Based on the insights generated from this program, they will also present a model of glaucoma prevention and treatment for rural areas to maximize the impact of health intervention.

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