Gauteng Health works to improve the lifestyles of the visually impaired

Friday, March 6, 2009
By: 
Gabi Khumalo

Pretoria - The Gauteng Department of Health has introduced basic services for visually impaired people at its Tshwane Rehabilitation Centre in a bid to make their daily activities easier.

The services at the Tshwane Rehabilitation Centre include orientation instructors who will teach the visually impaired to walk about with or without assistance, to dress and care for themselves, prepare their own meals, use public transport and to do their own shopping.

Gauteng Health MEC Brian Hlongwa said his department would establish the status and extent of services that are available to people who are visually impaired and to identify gaps within the programmes.

"It is our joint responsibility to ensure that every aspect of the lives of people with visual disabilities is fully integrated into the lives of our communities.

"We acknowledge that in this regard, services for people with visual impairment have fallen short of this aim," Mr Hlongwa said.

He further emphasised the need to spread information about the value of detecting cataracts of the eye, as operations to remove cataracts could restore vision immediately.

Speaking on behalf of the blind and partially sighted, Andre Manders from the South African National Council for the Blind said when the beneficiaries leave the centre, they will able to say: "I can do things for myself".

It is estimated that 3 percent of the South African population is visually impaired