199378 Visual Health Professionals in South America: Distribution Analysis

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 8:48 AM

Laura Guisasola, OD , UNESCO Chair Visual Health and Development, Universidad Politécnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
Anna Rius, MPH, OD , UNESCO Chair Visual Health and Development, Universidad Politécnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
Juan Carlos Ondategui, OD , Optics and Optometry Department, Universidad Politécnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
Objective: To determine if the number and distribution of visual health professionals in 10 South American countries cover the demand for the underserved collectives that require their services.

Methods: In 2007-08 197 selected key informants participated in 152 interviews of which 339 questionnaires were subdivided into dimensions of professionals, associations, education, care delivery and non-governmental cooperation. The cross-tabulation of these data with socio-economic data permitted the analysis of accessibility.

Results: The proportion of visual health professionals per 100,000 inhabitants is lead by Argentina (33.7 per 100,000) similar to the USA (37.2 per 100,000). In last place is Bolivia (4.6 per 100,000). This ranking coincides with the ranking of the Human Development Index (HDI) of the countries. 56.7% of the South American ophthalmologists work in the principal region of their respective countries yet covers only 28.1% of the population.

Conclusions: Although the absolute number of professionals may be considered sufficient to cover the demand, their unequal distribution and their limited inclusion in the public health system impede access for the most impoverished in South America.

Learning Objectives:
Analyze if the human resources in visual health in South America meet the demand with particular emphasis toward the underserved and vulnerable populations.

Keywords: Access to Health Care, Vision Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I'm the Chair of the UNESCO Chair in Visual Health and Development from 2003, and Faculty in the Department of Optics and Optometry of the Universidad Politécnica de Catalunya from 1989 till now. I'm Master in Public Health and I'm envolved in a a PHD about Public Visual Health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.