ealth Secretary Francisco Duque III gave assurance that the DOH would be able to provide comprehensive eye care services, integrate eye care within local health systems and respond to emerging eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma under the UHC.
The STAR/ File
Free eye care services available for Filipinos by 2020
Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - November 15, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Free eye care services will become available for Filipinos next year with the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) program.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III gave assurance that the DOH would be able to provide comprehensive eye care services, integrate eye care within local health systems and respond to emerging eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma under the UHC.

“Through the primary care provider network that will be institutionalized under the UHC, we hope to bring easy access and seamless referral to ophthalmic units, comprehensive eye centers and national ophthalmic specialty centers,” Duque said.

He said health facilities would be capacitated to deliver the appropriate eye care services.

The DOH realigned the country’s Prevention of Blindness Program with UHC and the World Health Organization (WHO)’s goal of universal eye health.

“The DOH is fully committed to working with our partners to address blindness and visual impairment in our country,” Duque said.

Based on the 2018 Philippine National Blindness Survey and Disease Study, vision impairment and blindness rank among the major concerns in the country with current prevalence rate of 1.98 percent.

The current prevalence rate represents 1.11 million Filipinos with cataract, 400,000 with uncorrected error of refraction, almost 300,000 with glaucoma and 200,000 with maculopathy.

There are also over four million Filipinos living with undiagnosed eye problem that need to be addressed.

In the past years, the DOH said there has been a decrease in the prevalence of blindness due to cataract and errors of refraction, but thousands are still suffering from such conditions.

“We are fortunate these diseases can be treated with surgery or prescription eyeglasses. These can also be prevented with regular consumption of vitamin A, injury prevention and immunization for measles and rubella that cause vision impairment,” Duque said. 

FRANCISCO DUQUE
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