THE EDITOR: Patients in need of cataract surgery in Tobago can breathe a sigh of relief. The recent announcement of a public/private partnership to do 600 cataract surgeries in a few short weeks is a fantastic step towards reducing avoidable blindness from cataracts in our country. Health officials should be commended for taking this very important decision.
Across the globe, long cataract surgery waiting lists have overwhelmed public systems in the wake of covid19. These are challenging times where the demand for eye surgery in the public system outweighs the supply. In some cases, there’s a shortage of well-trained surgeons to handle the volume and complexity of surgeries that need to be done. What is being revealed now is that “out-of-the-box” solutions can curb this problem.
For example, the NHS increased its reliance on the private sector to do cataract surgeries from 11 per cent to 50 per cent, allowing health administrators to lower wait times for patients significantly.
The Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA)’s decision to engage private eye care providers to reduce cataract surgery patient backlogs is progressive and shows how collaboration in eye health management can be powerful. It’s a timely shift to help solve the conundrum of how to do more with less in public health.
All Regional Health Authorities should follow suit. With more than 60 qualified ophthalmologists within our country’s cadre of private sector medics, it’s a prime time to do more partnerships that will get surgeries done faster for patients.
Blindness and vision impairment lead to social and economic strife for patients and their families and can eventually cripple a society’s overall productivity. I encourage our Minister of Health to implement more collaborative initiatives between public and private cataract surgery providers, for the benefit of the vulnerable who sometimes lose hope within the current model for the delivery of cataract surgery.
Caribbean Vitreous and
Retina Surgery Ltd
Trinidad Eye Hospital