Optometrists Ask For Proper Placement Of Single Spine Salary Structure

The President of the Ghana Optometric Association (GOA), Dr Samuel Asiedu, has appealed to the Salaries and Wages Commission to place optometrists on the appropriate Single Spine Salary Pay Scale commensurate with their training and skills.

He explained that it took seven years to train an optometrist, but given the factors considered - such as knowledge, skills and responsibility - in placing professionals on the SSS Structure, the Association was confounded that the entry scale for other professionals with less years of training and operational risks, was higher than that of the optometrists.

Dr Asiedu said this at the opening of the Annual General Meeting and Continuous Professional Development Conference of Ghana Optometric Association, at Takoradi.

The three-day conference, attended by more than 200 optometrists, is under the theme “Ghana Optometry in Retrospect, Stronger Together”. It is to reflect on the impact of the Optometry on Ghanaians and to assess the weaknesses of members, their strengths, and to draw on the factors that made them more effective and relevant to the country.

Optometrists are healthcare professionals who examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures. They also identify systemic conditions affecting the eye.    

Dr Asiedu said though there had been improvement in eye care services, many areas were still not being covered and, therefore, expressed the hope that more optometrists would be deployed to serve in those areas.

Dr Jacob Vanderpuye, the Executive Director of Van-J Eye Care, who was the guest speaker, noted that Optometry had been a relatively young discipline in the health sector, with about 35 per cent of the services being provided by the Christian Health Association of Ghana, and other Non-Governmental Organisations.

He said the scope and practice of optometry in Ghana was not limited to only refraction as some eye care professionals made the public to believe, but their work ranged from primary care to secondary eye care, which involved specialist practices such as in binocular vision, contact lenses and low vision.

Dr Vanderpuye said though optometry had chalked a lot of a successes in the country, it was still saddled with a number of challenges.

“We still have a number of optometrists who have successfully completed their programme and are waiting for posting into places where there are gaps and their services is much needed,” he said.

Dr Vanderpuye said financing, access to capital and credit facilities were extremely difficult for optometrists, therefore, it hampered the expansion and modernisation of existing clinics as well as the opening of new ones in private and public facilities.

He said due to the high cost of optical consumables because of unstable exchange rates and inflation, it had affected access to quality optometric interventions, thereby causing quackery and fraudulent practices by some unscrupulous persons.

Osahene Okatekye Busumakura III, the Takoradi Manhene, who presided, commended optometrists for the important role they played in the delivery of quality eye care and urged them to form networks and groups to enable them to purchase their equipment since they were expensive and they could not be bought by individuals.

He said there was the need for modern machines to help address the increasing number of eye diseases, and challenged the optometrists in the private sector to come to together to form bigger companies to enable them to purchase quality machines for their work.