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Integration of optometry at the national health system: the case of the first optometrists in Mozambique

Advances in Ophthalmology & Visual System
Ramos António Manuel,1 Sergio Latorre Arteaga,Isaura ID Brito dos Santos,1 Joel Bambamba,1 Anselmo Vilanculos,2 Kajal Shah,3 Diana Gil Gonzalez4

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Introduction: In the last two decades an increasing number of African countries have established Optometry training to tackle the largely unmet eye health needs of the population. However not sufficient evidence exist on how the profession is integrated and contributing to national health systems. In Mozambique, the optometry program started under the Faculty of Health Sciences in the public Lúrio University in 2009. From 2012 to 2016, 23 graduates were employed by the National Health System (NHS). Objective: The aim of this research is to document the integration of Optometrists at the National Health System in Mozambique. Methods: This is a descriptive, quantitative and cross-sectional study. Questionnaires and structured interviews were administered to all participants. Results: The response rate was 100% and the Optometrists were found practicing in 10 of the 11 provinces of the country distributed among primary, secondary and tertiary health facilities, providing refraction and managing common ocular pathologies along with the Ophthalmic Technicians, resolving the majority of patient needs and needing to refer 28% of cases to other professionals. The lack of equipment was the main expressed barrier to the provision of effective eye care services. According to them, the optometry curriculum responds well (91%) to the competencies required at the workplace. Areas for improvement training and provision of services were identified and presented in the study Conclusion: Optometrists are providing effective services needing to work closely and in coordination with other professionals. This research revealed the need for equipment provision and continuing education


optometrists, national health system, primary eye care