The Ghana Red Cross Society in partnership with the Swiss Red Cross and Ghana Health Service (GHS) to resume screening activities at basic schools in the Northern, North East, and Savannah Regions to identify children with allergies and eye problems for treatment.
This is to help identify any sight related disease and help find treatment to enable pupils to focus on their academic activities.
The Ghana Red Cross Society in partnership with the Swiss Red Cross and GHS, since 2005, has been implementing the Action against Childhood Blindness project in the three regions, which amongst others, involved screening of school children.
However, the screening was suspended due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of schools in the country.
To pave way for the resumption of the screening exercise, the Ghana Red Cross Society in collaboration with the Ghana Education Service (GES) and with support from the Swiss Red Cross and GHS have trained Special Education Coordinators drawn from all the 29 districts in the three regions on COVID-19 on how to protect themselves and school children, especially those to be screened for any infections.
The Special Education Coordinators worked with Ghana Red Cross Society’s Teams when they went around the schools to do the screening and the treatment for children hence the training for them to also provide COVID-19 step-down training for school teachers in their catchment areas and to make the schools in their districts COVID-19 conscious.
Consultant Project Advisor, Northern Region Eye Health Services, Mr Frederick Adu Anti, who spoke during the training in Tamale, said the resumption of the screening activities at the schools would help to save the sight of children.
Mr Anti said “We have been running the eye care services project in the Northern Region since 2005 and we have been involved in out-patient department work, community outreach, surgeries, and school-based activities. When COVID-19 came, almost everything shut down.”
He said “At a point, we realised that we had a lot of blind people, who were distressed because the protocols were now preventing people from leading them to move around. So, we had to come back and observe all the protocols and restart surgeries. So, since that time, we have done over 3,000 surgeries; now these blind people can see and they are independent, and can go about their normal duties.”
He added that “The government also shut down the schools, and reopened them now. And one of the protocols says that you do not have to be touching your eyes and nose and mouth and you know children get a lot of conjunctivitis because of allergies amongst others. So, they are becoming very vulnerable, they are at high risk because they are always rubbing their eyes and touching their noses. So, we took a bold decision that if we have reopened the surgery and with the appropriate precautions, it is working well, let us use the same system to reopen the school-based activities as well.”
Deputy Director in-charge of Clinical Care at the Northern Regional Health Directorate Dr Braimah Baba Abubakari, said the training have multiple benefits for school children and their teachers as it will prevent teachers from infecting the children and vice-versa.
Madam Felicia Owusu, who is in-charge of Special Education at the Northern Regional Directorate of the Ghana Education Service, lauded the training saying “We used to bus the children to go for screening but now we will go to schools to undertake the screening.”
Madam Owusu commended the Ghana Red Cross Society, GHS and the Swiss Red Cross for the eye care services saying “It will go a long way to help some children with visual impairment in our schools.”