The distribution of cataract surgery services in a public health eye care program in Nepal

Health Policy. 1997 Nov;42(2):117-33. doi: 10.1016/s0168-8510(97)00063-8.


The cost-effectiveness of public health cataract programs in low-income countries has been well documented. Equity, another important dimension of program quality which has received less attention is analyzed here by comparisons of surgical coverage rates for major sub-groups within the intended beneficiary population of the Nepal blindness program (NBP). Substantial differences in surgical coverage were found between males and females and between different age groups of the same gender. Among the cataract blind, the surgical coverage of males was 70% higher than that of females. For both genders, the cataract blind over 55 received proportionately fewer services than younger people blind from cataract. Blind males aged 45-54 had a 500% higher rate of surgical coverage than blind males over 65. Blind females aged 35-44 had nearly a 600% higher rate of surgical coverage than blind females over 65. There was wide variation in overall surgical coverage between geographic zones, but little variation by terrain type, an indicator of the logistical difficulties in delivery of services. Members of the two highest caste groupings had somewhat lower surgical coverage than members of lower castes. Program managers should consider developing methods to increase services to women and to those over 65. Reaching these populations will become increasingly important as those most readily served receive surgery and members of the under-served groups form a growing portion of the remaining cataract backlog.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cataract Extraction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Health Care Rationing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nepal / epidemiology
  • Public Health Administration / economics*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Sex Factors