New ophthalmology centre inaugurated in Algarve

The new ophthalmology centre aims to address the region’s long waiting lists

The Algarve University Hospital Centre (CHUA) inaugurated an ophthalmology centre at the public Terras do Infante hospital in Lagos on Thursday.

The plan is to conduct over 9,500 consultations and around 2,800 surgical procedures annually to reduce long waiting lists in the region.

The Algarve Ophthalmology Centre represents a €1.1 million investment covered by CHUA, with the backing of the Algarve Municipalities Association (AMAL) and 14 of the 16 municipalities in the region, with Faro and Silves being the only two that did not contribute.

Speaking to Lusa news agency, the coordinator of the new facility stated that the centre has two main goals: to maximise the number of patients seen and to provide quality care.

According to João Rosendo, a specific team of doctors, nurses, and assistants has been created to achieve these goals. Patients will be referred to the ophthalmology centre by health centres in the Algarve.

“The idea has always been for this centre not to focus solely on numbers but to maintain a highly personalised service with a young and motivated team,” Rosendo said.

João Rosendo added that the centre will perform all the usual ophthalmology procedures, “both in the clinical area during consultations and in surgeries for cataracts, conjunctiva, eyelids, and, in the near future, retinal surgeries.”

“Later on, corneal surgeries may also be performed, as we have team members who already do that, as well as refractive procedures, which will be for a second phase,” he said.

The new Algarve Ophthalmology Centre was inaugurated on World Sight Day, a date that “was not chosen by chance,” said the head of CHUA’s board of directors.

According to Ana Varges Gomes, the centre “strengthens the response of the National Health Service (SNS) in the Algarve in the field of ophthalmology, increasing consultations, screenings, and surgeries, as well as the quality of care provided to patients.”

Varges Gomes, who completed her term at CHUA on December 31, 2022, remaining in office until the SNS executive director appoints a new board of directors, added that the centre was designed to address the long waiting lists for consultations and surgeries in the region.

“We challenged a team of excellent doctors who embarked on this project,” said the CHUA boss adding that it stands out “as an example that when the region unites, extraordinary things can be accomplished”.

Said Gomes, the Algarve continues to be “undervalued” by the government, but when “it acts as if it were an autonomous region, which is essentially what it should be, incredible things can be done, increasing the capacity to respond” in key areas such as healthcare.

She stressed the region’s quick response to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, when it was able to set up a field hospital in two weeks which served Lisbon, helping “save many lives.

The Algarve still counts for very little because if this field hospital were in Lisbon or Porto, we would have received gold medals, and we didn’t even get a word of thanks from the authorities. But that’s what motivates us; we do it without recognition,” she said.

Addressing her future leaving CHUA’s board of directors, Ana Varges Gomes said she will continue  to work in the Algarve, where she will practice medicine in her specialty, oncology.”

By Michael Bruxo

[email protected]