Original Research

An assessment of human resource distribution for public eye health services in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Zamadonda N. Xulu-Kasaba, Khathutshelo P. Mashige, Kovin S. Naidoo
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 80, No 1 | a583 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v80i1.583 | © 2021 ZAMADONDA N. XULU-KASABA, Khathutshelo P. Mashige, Kovin S. Naidoo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 June 2020 | Published: 07 June 2021

About the author(s)

Zamadonda N. Xulu-Kasaba, Discipline of Optometry, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Khathutshelo P. Mashige, Discipline of Optometry, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Kovin S. Naidoo, Discipline of Optometry, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; and, Department of Optometry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia


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Abstract

Background: The development of human resources for eye health (HReH), aimed at achieving a 25% reduction in visual impairment by the year 2020, was one of the VISION 2020 objectives.

Aim: To assess HReH in the public sector of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), and its effect on the accessibility of eye care in the province.

Setting: All public eye facilities in KZN.

Methods: A quantitative cross-sectional study using a close-ended questionnaire to assess distribution and outputs of HReH. At the end of the questionnaire, respondents gave general comments on their ability to provide services.

Results: Human resource rates were 0.89 for ophthalmologists, 2.44 for cataract surgeons, 4.8 for optometrists and 4.7 for ophthalmic nurses per 1 million population. Most health facilities had some HReH working in them, albeit none had dispensing opticians. Regression analysis showed that 67.1% of variation in cataract surgery was because of the number of surgeons available. Cataract surgical rates were low with a waiting period of up to 18 months. In addition to the refractive error regression analysis of 33.7%, spectacle supply was low, with a backlog of up to 9 months in some facilities.

Conclusion: Overall, HReH targets as per VISION 2020 and the National Prevention of Blindness have not been met in this region. Dispensing opticians are not employed in any of the province’s health districts. An increase in the eye health workforce is necessary to improve the eye health outcomes for people dependent on public eye facilities.


Keywords

human resources for eye health; public eye health services; visual impairment; KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; eye care

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