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Saint Lucia officials looking to expand vision care services for diabetics to Dennery, Soufriere hospitals

By Ministry of Health

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(PRESS RELEASE) — The Department of Health and Wellness is continuing its work towards strengthening the diabetic retinopathy services on island through training of health care professionals.

The capacity of health care professionals in the field of vision care is expected to be improved as a team from the Frimley Park Hospital UK visited Saint Lucia to provide training on the screening, grading and treatment of diabetic retinopathy.

This training is expected to support the development of an island-wide screening service.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sharon Belmar-George expressed hope that the diabetic retinopathy services can be expanded to the Dennery and Soufriere hospital.

“In terms of ensuring sustainability and strengthening our diabetic retinopathy programme which was implemented earlier this year, this is what the team is here to do. We already provide the service in the north and south of the island, so we are looking to extend services to the Dennery and Soufriere hospital. So, this training for the extra officers will also provide us with more of our human resource officers trained to ensure the sustainability of the program here.”

Consultant ophthalmologist Dr. Geeta Menon says she is very pleased with the progress St. Lucia has made with its diabetic retinopathy screening service since its implementation in February 2018.

“We are hoping that at the end of the workshop that the nurses will actually become really good graders. They will be able to pick out those patients that need treatment and faster admit to the hospital for laser treatment; the ophthalmologist. So, that we can actually get prompt treatment for these patients before the go blind. The thing we would want in the end is to actually prevent the diabetic retinopathy. So, one of the things we doing is patient education; is trying to get the patients to understand how they should actually change their diets so that they can actually prevent or reduce the progression of diabetic retinopathy.”

Currently, the Department of Health and Wellness provides diabetic retinopathy screening services at the Castries and Vieux-Fort Wellness Centres.

Also, laser treatment is available at the Babonneau Wellness Centre.

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