Overcoming gender inequity in prevention of blindness and visual impairment in Africa.

Peer-reviewed article
(2011 Apr) Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol, 18 98-101

Authors

Mganga H, Lewallen S, Courtright P

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Globally, and in Africa, after adjusting for age, women are about 1.4 times more likely to be blind than men. While women generally live longer than men, the lack of accessibility to and use of services is likely the most important reason for excess blindness in women in Africa.

AIM

We sought to review the literature on vision loss in Africa and summarize the findings related to gender equity.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Information from across sub-Saharan Africa was collected on the evidence of gender inequity and reasons for this inequity. Finally, the results were used to generate suggestions on how gender equity could be improved.

RESULTS

In all published surveys (except one), cataract surgical coverage among women was lower than cataract surgical coverage among men. Although data available are limited, similar findings appeared in the use of services for other disease conditions, notably, childhood cataract and glaucoma. Evidence suggests that a variety of approaches are needed to improve the use of eye care services. Three main strategies are needed to address gender inequity in vision loss in Africa. First, it is important to address transport needs. Second, counseling of patients and family members is required. Finally, programs need to put in place pricing systems that make the services affordable the population.

CONCLUSIONS

VISION 2020 can be achieved in Africa, but investment is needed in a variety of strategies that will ensure that eye care services are affordable, accessible, and acceptable to women and girls.