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‘Remove taxes on our medications’ – Glaucoma Patients

Mr Harrison K. Abutiate, the National President of Glaucoma Patients Association of Ghana (GpAG), has appealed to the Government to remove all taxes on glaucoma medications.

Mr Abutiate, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said treatment had become a challenge due to high cost of medication arising from high taxes and exchange rates.

‘One of the reasons prices are high is because of the high taxes and exchange rate. Taxes on them are about fifty percent of the cost of the drugs. If you add the freight charges and importers margin, we will be talking of almost 75 to 80 percent of charges. So, if the government reduces the tax by 50 percent, it will be affordable, probably a third of what we are paying now,’ he said.

He made the appeal at the commemoration of the World Glaucoma Awareness Week held by the Trust Specialist Hospital at Osu, Accra.

The GpAG President also appealed to Government to intensify the lighting of the streets and cover all open drains to save persons with vision challenges from
falling into ditches.

‘Most people driving may have vision challenges, but glaucoma patients have additional problems because they are losing their peripheral vision… it will also help a lot if there is adequate street lighting, especially at night. A lot of pavements and edges of bridges are also not marked with reflectors, and this also creates problems… there are so many accidents just because many cannot see properly when driving or crossing,’he said.

According to data published by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), glaucoma constitutes 19.4 percent of all eye-related diseases in Ghana and comes second to cataract pegged at 54.5 percent as the common causes of blindness in the country.

Dennis Aggrey Ampiah, who has vision challenge, narrated his story of overcoming the condition and advised Ghanaians to refrain from self-medication and report early to hospital when they detected signs of vision decline.

He also warned against wrong use of eyeglasses.

‘Be cautious of quac
ks who parade with all kinds of concoctions, claiming to cure glaucoma and other eye diseases. Avoid buying cheap eyeglasses from questionable sources and report eye problems to the hospital immediately to avoid future vision loss… treasure your eyes. Don’t wait till you lose your sight,’ he said.

Glaucoma, the 2021 IAPB facts states, is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide and most prevalent in people of African descent. About 6 million have glaucoma and more than half a million have already been blinded by it in Africa.

Glaucoma has an earlier onset in Africans and is more aggressive in its course than in Caucasian counterparts. In most of Africa, only about 1 in 20 of those with the disease are aware, with over 50% being unilaterally blind on presentation.

The CEO of The Trust Specialist Hospital, Dr Juliana Oye Ameh, as part of the week-long commemoration, announced a thirty percent discount package for patients who would seek their services for the treatment of eye problems.

Ghana News Agency