The capacity of eye care services for patients with glaucoma in Botswana
Purpose: To evaluate current delivery of glaucoma care in Botswana; in particular, the service infrastructure available and glaucoma-related workload.<br><br>Methods: A multi-center cross-sectional study was undertaken comprising government eye care institutions and ophthalmic personnel across Botswana. Data on human resources, equipment types and numbers, diagnostic criteria routinely used, treatments routinely provided, and new and repeat glaucoma consultations were obtained through quantitative and qualitative surveys.<br><br>Results: In 27 government eye care institutions there were two general ophthalmologists, neither of whom had a subspecialty interest in glaucoma, 64 ophthalmic nurses, two optometrists, one low vision therapist, one refractionist, and two equipment technicians. Only 8.5% of available ophthalmic human resources were taken up with provision of glaucoma care. About 1/3 of hospitals did not have tonometers, most primary hospitals lacked slit lamp biomicroscopes and most hospitals lacked sensitive diagnostic equipment. A diagnosis of glaucoma was made by either an ophthalmic nurse or an ophthalmologist, but only 10% of institutions could meet recommendations for follow-up assessment. Topical glaucoma medications were prescribed by almost all hospital clinics, usually by ophthalmic nurses. Drug choices were largely determined by local availability. Glaucoma surgery accounted for 0.8% of total eye operations. Glaucoma patients took up 8.5% of total clinic visits. The total number of glaucoma visits was highest in the two hospitals with ophthalmologists. New glaucoma cases took up 10.3% of total glaucoma visits.<br><br>Conclusion: This study highlights the challenges faced in caring for glaucoma patients in Botswana; in particular, lack of professional human resources, equipment and availability of effective treatments.