World Diabetes Foundation Programme Manager Mads Holst Jensen, who recently visited Bangladesh, has gone back with a positive impression of diabetic eye care in the country.
While talking to Dr Munir Ahmed, Country Director of Orbis International, Bangladesh, Mads expressed his feeling about diabetic healthcare in Bangladesh
He said a better result in the delivery of diabetes eye care services will come if the government and non-government organisations working in the field could forge a greater collaboration.
Mads visited BADAS (Diabetic Association of Bangladesh) Hospital in Sherpur, Dr K Zaman BNSB Eye Hospital in Mymensingh, and Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar to see the facilities and services there.
He observed that BADAS, the non-communicable disease control department of the government and NGOs have an adequate workforce and that their proper utilisation in primary prevention of DM and DR could yield better results.
According to International Diabetic Federation (IDF), over 10 million people in Bangladesh were living in Bangladesh with diabetes mellitus (DM) in 2016. Of them, 25 percent were affected by diabetic retinopathy (DR) and thus at the risk of becoming blind.
Against such a backdrop, Orbis International is implementing a three-year project titled ‘Creation of Diabetic Retinopathy Referral Network in Bangladesh’ to ensure the screening and referral of DM at community clinics and the inclusion of DR screening and standard grading system in the BADAS diabetic health care services.
Pointing out that there are some gaps in the delivery of diabetic eye care services, he suggested fixing them to ensure better health services to the patients.
After visiting the Rohingya camps and observing the service delivery there, he said if the system developed to address eye health issues in humanitarian settings can be promoted, it will give a fresh impetus to service delivery.
He observed that the Rohingya refugees coming from Myanmar are receiving better eye care service in the camps than they did in their own country. The services are even better than the host community is receiving, according to him.
Appreciating the enthusiasm of WDF partners in Bangladesh in their work, Mads assured them of continued support from the World Diabetes Foundation in the future.
Orbis is implementing the ‘Creation of Diabetic Retinopathy Referral Network in Bangladesh’ project in Gopalganj, Bogura, Mymensingh, Sherpur and Netrakona districts in partnership with four diabetic hospitals and two eye hospitals.
Through the project, an effective referral system has been established between community clinics and district diabetic hospitals and selected eye hospitals in the project areas.
The objectives of the project are to increase the demand for diabetic eye care services, improve the eye care referral pathways for patients, improve the capacity of community clinics, provide technical support and training to secondary eye care facilities, and advocate an integrated approach for DM and DR services within the existing facilities at all levels.