Alternate eye care services in a Ghanaian district

  • CT Ntim-Amponsah Department of Surgery, University of Ghana Medical School, PO Box GP4236, Accra, Ghana
  • WMK Amoaku Division of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Queen’s Medical Center, Nottingham, UK
  • S Ofosu-Amaah School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana


Objective: To determine eye care services sought outside the regular hospital system and their providers.

Study setting: Akwapim South district.

Method: Questionnaire survey and in depth interviews.

Results: We recruited 1,537 persons with a previous history of eye disease and alternate service providers (21 chemical shop attendants and 55 herbalists). There was no significant difference between patronage of the regular and the alternative providers (p value 0.78). Most of the herbalists were trained by relations; parents (29/55) and grandparents (10/55). Two thirds had some formal education and 96% practiced part-time. Over 75% claimed they treated cataracts, eye injuries, and “kooko” and 28% also treated red eyes. Chemical shop attendants were all literates, sold only antibiotic eye drops, and 64% practiced full time.

Conclusions: Herbalists and chemical sellers provided substantive eye care along the regular hospital services but some of their practices may be harmful.

Keywords: primary eye care, cataract, traditional medicine, self medication, parallel care

Ghana Medical Journal Vol. 39(1) 2005: 19-23

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0016-9560