By Perseverance Tavagwisa
Cimas Medical Aid Society today (Wednesday) handed over to the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences optometry equipment for Zimbabwe’s first Optometry Training Unit, which was then officially opened by Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Minister Olivia Muchena.
The unit, which is within Kaguvi Hospital, will train optometrists and provide optometry services to members of the public.
This is the first time that optometry training has been available within Zimbabwe. It will also be the first time that optometry services have been available in a government hospital and at public sector prices.
Thanking Cimas for donating and installing the equipment at a cost of $120 000, Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa said the partnership between Cimas and the University of Zimbabwe was “very much in line with government’s ZimAsset policy”.
“Zim-Asset envisages utilising and strengthening Public-Private Partnerships,” he said, adding that the partnership between Cimas and the university’s College of Health Sciences was an example of such a partnership that has yielded tangible results.
He said the vision for the unit had come from the University of Zimbabwe’s College of Health Sciences Department of Ophthalmology.
“However, such visions might remain visions unless there are funds to implement them and make them a reality,” he said.
He thanked Cimas for responding positively to the Department of Ophthalmology’s request for assistance by providing the funds for all the optometry equipment required.
He said the new optometry unit would fill a big gap in the provision of eye health services. The first locally trained optometrists would have been trained in four years time.
Currently there are only optometrists available in the private sector, all of whom obtained their training outside the country.
The Minister urged those responsible for the new unit not to charge their patients much so that those who were poor and from rural areas could afford their services.
Dr Muchena also praised Cimas for its partnership with the university. She said when people talked about Public-Private Partnerships they normally thought of big industries entering into such partnerships.