The Economic Impact of Glaucoma in The Philippines
In the world of ocular health, glaucoma is a notorious saboteur. Often referred to as the “sneak thief of sight,” its impact extends beyond individual vision, becoming a significant economic strain in countries like the Philippines. In this article, we explore just how profound this impact is on the Philippine economy.
II. The Prevalence of Glaucoma in the Philippines
Glaucoma plagues people worldwide, and the Philippines is no exception. Recent data suggests that over 1.7 million Filipinos aged over 40 have this disease, and unfortunately, many remain undiagnosed until vision loss occurs. To understand the broader context, one must recognize the demographics and risk factors surrounding glaucoma – older adults, individuals with a family history, and those with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are most affected.
III. Direct Healthcare Costs
The fight against glaucoma involves frequent therapy, use of eye drops, laser treatments and surgeries – all of which come with significant costs. In the Philippines, where patients foot 54% of total health expenses, the financial burden is enormous. The limited coverage of the PhilHealth Z Benefit Package for complex and costly treatments means that much glaucoma management falls directly on individual patients and families.
IV. Indirect Costs and Productivity Losses
It isn’t only the direct healthcare costs we need to consider. There’s also the profound impact on quality of life, work productivity, and care for those affected. Glaucomatous vision loss reduces work efficiency, increases sick days, and can even force early retirement – all adding up to a substantial economic setback on a national level.
V. Challenges in Glaucoma Treatment Access and Cost Management
The difficulties are compounded by accessibility issues, especially for those in remote areas. With a significant portion of eye care services concentrated in urban areas, access to glaucoma treatment is an uphill battle for many Filipinos. Further, glaucoma requires lifelong management – medication cost and availability pose another burden on those battling this disease.
The economic impact of glaucoma in the Philippines is a formidable one. But awareness can play a crucial role in addressing this issue. Early detection and diligent compliance with treatment are key to preventing the severe vision loss associated with glaucoma, which can help curtail the significant economic burden on our society. The call now is for cost-efficient health policies and affordable treatment solutions that can better serve the needs of every Filipino affected by glaucoma. The health of our people is, after all, deeply entwined with the health of our nation.