Cataract surgery in Southern Ethiopia: distribution, rates and determinants of service provision.

Habtamu, E; Eshete, Z; Burton, MJ; (2013) Cataract surgery in Southern Ethiopia: distribution, rates and determinants of service provision. BMC Health Serv Res, 13 (1). p. 480. ISSN 1472-6963 DOI:

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BACKGROUND Cataract is the leading cause of blindness worldwide, with the greatest burden found in low-income countries. Cataract surgery is a curative and cost-effective intervention. Despite major non-governmental organization (NGO) support, the cataract surgery performed in Southern Region, Ethiopia is currently insufficient to address the need. We analyzed the distribution, productivity, cost and determinants of cataract surgery services. METHODS Confidential interviews were conducted with all eye surgeons (Ophthalmologists & Non-Physician Cataract Surgeons [NPCS]) in Southern Region using semi-structured questionnaires. Eye care project managers were interviewed using open-ended qualitative questionnaires. All eye units were visited. Information on resources, costs, and the rates and determinants of surgical output were collected. RESULTS Cataract surgery provision is uneven across Southern Region: 66% of the units are within 200 km of the regional capital. Surgeon to population ratios varied widely from 1:70,000 in the capital to no service provision in areas containing 7 million people. The Cataract Surgical Rate (CSR) in 2010 was 406 operations/million/year with zonal CSRs ranging between 204 and 1349. Average number of surgeries performed was 374 operations/surgeon/year. Ophthalmologists and NPCS performed a mean of 682 and 280 cataract operations/surgeon/year, respectively (p = 0.03). Resources are underutilized, at 56% of capacity. Community awareness programs were associated with increased activity (p = 0.009). Several factors were associated with increased surgeon productivity (p < 0.05): working for >2 years, working in a NGO/private clinic, working in an urban unit, having a unit manger, conducting outreach programs and a satisfactory work environment. The average cost of cataract surgery in 2010 was US$141.6 (Range: US$37.6--312.6). Units received >70% of their consumables from NGOs. Mangers identified poor staff motivation, community awareness and limited government support as major challenges. CONCLUSIONS The uneven distribution of infrastructure and personnel, underutilization by the community and inadequate attention and support from the government are limiting cataract surgery service delivery in Southern Ethiopia. Improved human resource management and implementing community-oriented strategies may help increase surgical output and achieve the "Vision 2020: The Right to Sight" targets for treating avoidable blindness.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases > Dept of Clinical Research
Research Centre: The International Centre for Evidence in Disability
International Centre for Eye Health
PubMed ID: 24245754
Web of Science ID: 328142600002


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