Ophthalmic Skills Assessment of Primary Health Care Workers at Primary Health Care Facilities in Rural Communities in Cross River State, Nigeria

Ekpenyong B.N.1, Osuchukwu N.C.1, Ndep O.A.1, Ezenwankwo A.O.2 and Emmanuel O.3

  1. Department of Public Health, Faculty of Allied Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Calabar, Nigeria.
  2. Benita Eye Clinic, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria
  3. General Hospital Ogoja, Cross River State, Nigeria

Corresponding Author: Bernadine Ekpenyong Email: benyita2001@yahoo.com. Phone: +2348033475138


Primary eye care is at the frontline in the elimination of the avoidable causes of blindness. Proficiency in basic ophthalmic skills is a critical factor in the effective delivery of eye care services at the primary level of care. The aim of the study was to assess the ability of the primary health care workers to provide basic ophthalmic services at primary health care facilities. A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to 146 health providers in twelve primary health care facilities in Cross River State. Multi-stage random sampling technique was used in the selection of respondents for this study. The ability of the health providers to carry out a visual acuity test and correctly identify cataract and conjunctivitis using pictures of eye conditions and patients complaints was also assessed and scored. Ethical approval was obtained from the ethics committee, Ministry of Health, Cross River State. Data were analysed using SPSS version 20.0.1. Majority of the participants could not perform the visual acuity test 126(86%). Their ability to correctly identify cataract and conjunctivitis were 78(53%) and 45(31%) respectively. Majority of those who showed the ability to perform some of the tests had previous training in primary eye care. The workers attributed the high failure rate/low score to lack of follow-up and inadequate duration of training on eye care, which was just for one day. The ophthalmic skills and knowledge of the primary health care providers were generally poor. This calls for a review of the strategy for the integration of primary eye care services into the existing primary health care system.

Keywords: Garcinia kola, Ascorbic acid, intraocular pressure, tonometer.

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