Summary of Research Results: Ricarda Bentham

Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow volunteers frequently pursue public health research studies in Unite For Sight's Global Impact Lab program. The research topics are developed by Unite For Sight and the partner eye clinics, the research studies are approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB), and the research findings are submitted to the eye clinic partners for program development.

Ricarda Bentham, "Use of Traditional Ophthalmic Remedies Practiced in Rural Ghana"
Presented at Unite For Sight's 2013 Global Health & Innovation Conference

Design and Methodology: Over a period of two weeks, during Unite For Sight rural outreach programs by Charity Eye Clinic in Ghana, 312 participants were randomly surveyed in eight different towns in rural Ghana. Of interest was the extent to which they had used traditional ophthalmic remedies.

Data and Results: Of those surveyed, 19.6% (61/312) reported having used traditional eye remedies. The most common remedies were: breast milk, 44.3% (27/61); dry herbs/leaves, 36.1% (22/61); and, herb extracts, 14.8% (9/61). Of those who had used traditional medicines, 36.1% (22/61) reported that the treatment had a negative effect, most commonly pain. In addition, only 31.1% (19/61) of those who used traditional remedies reported that the remedies helped their eye condition and 90.3% (56/61) indicated that they would not use traditional eye remedies in the future. Approximately equal numbers of females (31) and males (30) had used traditional remedies, and there were small and mostly non-significant differences between those who had and had not used traditional remedies in terms of age, village and various indicators of poverty status. A similar proportion of those who had used/not used traditional medicine indicated that they had not previously seen an eye doctor prior to their visit to the clinic that day. (34.4%, 21/61; 29.9%, 74/251).

Conclusion: The results suggest that there is no specific demographic that is positively associated with the use of traditional ophthalmic remedies in this particular region. They also indicate that the Outreach Program continues to reach individuals who are without ophthalmic care.