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Government assures passage of the Organ and Tissue Donation Bill

Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Presidential Advisor on Health, has assured the medical fraternity of the passage of the Organ and Tissue Donation Bill, which would help cure people suffering from cornea blindness.

‘The draft bill is currently with the Ministry of Health. What is needed now is the policy for it to be sent to Cabinet and then the Attorney General,’ he said.

Dr. Nsiah-Asare made the pledge at the second Corneal Transplant Summit in Accra, which aimed to look at how Ghana can properly implement the bill when it is passed to ensure successful corneal and organ harvesting.

He said the cornea was essential for seeing; yet, diseases, injuries, and infections could harm the sensitive tissue, resulting in irreversible blindness.

According to the Presidential Advisor on Health, Ghana’s present situation was marked by a lack of awareness, an insufficient donor pool, and inadequate infrastructure.

Dr. Nsiah-Asare emphasised his commitment to regulations governing cornea and other organ transplants.

called for public awareness campaigns, collaboration with international organizations, and investment in training and infrastructure to transform lives and restore vision to those suffering from corneal blindness.

The summit, held in partnership with the Ophthalmological Society of Ghana (OSG) and HCP Cureblindness, was on the theme ‘Eliminating Corneal Blindness in Ghana. The Time is Now for Organ and Tissue Law.’

The Organ and Tissue Donation Bill seeks to establish a Human Organ and Tissue Authority (HOTA) to oversee and manage organ and tissue donation, create a national register of donors and recipients, protect rights and interests, and ensure ethical and legal standards.

Dr. James Addy, HCP Cureblindness Country Director, said that vision loss not only decreases employment prospects but also limits the ability to engage in other aspects of life, resulting in low utilization of one’s potential.

He said with around 26,000 people in Ghana awaiting corneal transplants, there was an urgent need for a la
w that ensured fair and transparent organ and tissue donation while protecting the rights and interests of donors and recipients and upholding ethical and legal standards.

Dr Addy said that, despite Ghana’s progress in improving eye care services over the last decade through infrastructure upgrades and health personnel capacity building, 230,000 Ghanaians remained blind, while another 330,000 suffer from severe vision loss.

However, Corneal blindness is easily repairable through transplant surgery based on the availability of healthy tissues, he added.

In 2022, Ghana’s only four corneal surgeons carried out 14 sight-saving surgeries, marking a significant milestone in the country’s ophthalmology practice.

Dr. Seth Lartey, Corneal Surgeon at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, said the country’s corneal surgeons currently depend on getting tissues from overseas, which proves both costly and time-consuming because cornea donation was expected to take effect within six hours of a donor’s death.

‘The medical fra
ternity earnestly requests the government to pass the bill, which will help establish eye banks and provide for fair and much-needed transplantation services to restore sight to thousands,’ he added.

Dr Lartey said the bill’s passage would create independent, equitable, and accessible health frameworks.

Dr Dziffa-Balla Ofori-Adjei, President of the Ophthalmological Society of Ghana (OSG), said that with the launch of the Cornea and Anterior Segment Fellowship by the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, OSG members were committed to training the next generation of Cornea Surgeons to perform sight-saving surgeries.

‘The expertise is available; the need is great, and the only missing piece is the passage of the legislation to bridge the gap between the need for Corneal transplants and the availability of donor corneas.

Corneal donation and transplant are not just mere medical procedures, they are acts of humanity and transcend borders, cultures, and backgrounds,’ Dr Ofori-Adjei added.

Source: Ghana Ne
ws Agency