Analyses of cataract surgery performed by the Unified Health System in Brazil, 2006-2007.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE Estimate cataract surgical rates (CSR) for Brazil and each federal unit in 2006 and 2007 based on the number of surgeries performed by the Unified Health System to help plan a comprehensive ophthalmology network in order to eliminate cataract blindness in compliance with the target set by the World Health Organization (WHO) of 3,000 cataract surgeries per million inhabitants per year. METHODS This descriptive study calculates CSR by using the number of cataract surgeries carried out by the Brazilian Unified Health System for each federal unit and estimates the need for cataract surgery in Brazil for 2006-2007, with official population data provided by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. The number of cataract surgeries was compared with the WHO target. RESULTS To reach the WHO goal for eliminating age-related cataract blindness in Brazil, 560,312 cataract surgeries in 2006 and 568,006 surgeries in 2007 needed to be done. In 2006, 179,121 cataract surgeries were done by the Unified Health System, corresponding to a CSR of 959 per million population; in 2007, 223,317 were performed, with a CSR of 1,179. With the Brazilian Council of Ophthalmology estimation of 165,000 surgeries each year by the non-public services, the CSR for Brazil would be 1,842 for 2006 and 2,051 for 2007. The proportions needed to achieve the proposed target were 38.6% in 2006 and 31.6% in 2007. CONCLUSIONS Human resources, technical expertise, and equipment are crucial to reach the WHO goal. Brazil has enough ophthalmologists but needs improved planning and infrastructure in order to eliminate the problem, aspects that require greater financial investment and stronger political commitment.

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