Screening for retinopathy of prematurity in a provincial hospital in Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Background. Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is an emerging public health problem in many middle-income countries where improved neonatal survival rates coupled with inadequate health resources have created a new epidemic. There are limited available data on the magnitude of the problem, and screening in South African (SA) hospitals has not been uniformly practised.
Objective. To describe the results of various interventions implemented over a 6-year period while developing a new ROP screening service in a provincial hospital in Port Elizabeth, SA.
Method. A retrospective case folder review of ROP screening at Dora Nginza Hospital, Port Elizabeth, SA, over the 6-year period 2009 - 2014 was conducted.
Results. A total of 919 new cases were seen. Fifteen patients received treatment for type 1 ROP (T1ROP), 223 had type 2 (T2) or earlier ROP, 1 had stage 4 ROP and 6 had stage 5 ROP. The combination of healthcare worker education, improved equipment and human resources and the introduction of dual responsibility for case referrals resulted in an increase in the number of new infants screened from 33 in year 1 to 292 in year 6. The number of infants who were screened late decreased from 33/33 (100%) in year 1, prior to the interventions, to 23/292 in the final year (7.9%). Improved oxygen delivery and adequate oxygen saturation monitoring contributed to a decrease in the incidence of T1ROP from 1.5% to 1% over 1 year and in the incidence of T2 or earlier ROP from 30.3% to 24%.
Conclusions. Better management of ROP can be achieved through adequate provision of healthcare professionals and material resources coupled with education and a well-supported referral system. A close working relationship between paediatricians and ophthalmologists results in a more efficient screening programme.
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