Early last month, Tanzania joined the rest of the world in marking the International Day of Older Persons with the theme “celebrating older human rights champions.”
In the world over, there are 700 million people aged 60 years and above, it is predicted that by 2050 the number will hit 2 billion according to the World Health Organisation.
This year’s focus was more on raising the profiles of older persons as participating members of society committed to improving the enjoyment of human rights in many areas of life other than those that affect them immediately.
The government through the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children brought together several government hospitals and private health facilities in marking this day to conduct free medical screenings. Of many challenges that affect the elderly population, which got more attention on the day was the vision problem.
Ms Averine Sakinyangachi, 65 is one of the people who came for eye screening.. The resident of Magomeni who is currently having eye problems told Your Heath that she used to do a lot of paper work while working in the 70s as a typist.
“I worked for several companies before I lost my last job, my vision started getting blurry.”
According to her, she reached a point that when she could not recognise some objects or read.
This made her realise that something was wrong with her eyes therefore; she decided to go to the hospital within the city to seek medical treatment.
And she is not the only one suffering from loss of vision; Ms Mikolata Ligwaga, 67, has a different story altogether. She started experiencing sight problems when she lost her husband and two children within two years.
“When I lost my husband and my two children whom I depended on so much for my daily living, I developed high blood pressure.
Until now the blood pressure affects her ability to see.
Ms Ligwaga says she visited several hospitals including Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) and Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) without experiencing any progress.
“I came here for medical check up because I heard an announcement that various private hospitals and the government health faccilities would provide free eye screening to mark this day,” she said.
Dr Emamanuel Kazimoto who is in charge of Tandale Health Center said that people should have the culture to visit the hospitals for medical check-ups regularly . “Visiting the doctor for a check-up could ensure that you are getting screened for diseases early enough,” he said.
He noted that the screenings could help individuals detect any possible ailments putting them at risk. Regular check-ups can also help increase chances of treatment.
Regular health check-ups are essential because they help identify potential problems at an early stage
Globally, it is estimated that approximately 1.3 billion people live with some form of vision impairment according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
With regards to distance vision, 188.5 million people have mild vision impairment, 217 million have moderate to severe vision impairment, and 36 million people are blind.
With regards to near vision, 826 million people live with a near vision impairment.
The WHO goes on to say that the leading causes of vision impairment are uncorrected refractive errors and cataracts and the majority of people with vision impairment are over the age of 50 years.