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Medical practitioner tasks govts on eye care in Niger Delta


Eyes-careWith the environmental degradation in the Niger delta owning to years of oil exploration without adequate clean ups and checks on hazardous activities, federal and state governments have been charged to invest heavily in rural eye care in the region.

Speaking to journalists in Benin City yesterday, an optician who specialises in treating riverine dwellers of the Niger Delta, Dr. Mejuya Okorodudu, said rural dwellers have been worst victims of inadequate health care provision.

The doctor has been running free medical expeditions across the creeks between Edo and Delta for five years now, under the auspices of Africa Cataract and Eye Foundation.

Okorodudu said he has just concluded such travels on a five-day rural eye programme in Shekelewu and Opuama towns, Egbema/Gbaramatu communities, in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State and other areas, he told journalists that his foundation has performed over 5, 000 eye surgeries in five years, which he said is still very inadequate, since the United Nations requires every eye surgeon to perform an average of 1, 500 eye surgeries every year in order to eliminate blindness.

The Niger Delta, except you have been here, you cannot really appreciate the magnitude of deprivation, and I have been here because I grew up here. I tend to see the difficulty of my people. A time came when I began to see a lot of wisdom in what my father told me, that I was born in this part of the world for a reason.

That means, if you have got skills, you must go and share it with your people. I am happy I can do this for them, knowing that most of them don’t have to be blind. They are just blind from needless causes. Some of them have been blind for 15, 20 years from simple things that can be reversed. When I see them, I am just not happy. You noticed the young lady that just walked in.

Her mum is blind from cataract, so I said she should come here so I can look at her own eyes. It’s those kind of things you see- people who are blind and a surgery that really won’t take 20 minutes can reverse their cases. Why don’t you just go ahead and give your time? You have already been trained so just get to work”.

The eye surgeon said the five-day expedition, his foundation, in conjunction with the Michael Johnny-led Egbema /Gbaramatu Central Development Association was able to treat ‎382 patients treated, and perform 37 eye surgeries free of charge. These surgeries restored patients from total blindness to sight.

He said blindness could be eliminated totally, if only professionals take proactive steps towards achieving it: “No one should be blind. Eye surgeries are very expensive. In a place like Benin, we do cataract surgeries between N140, 000 to N200, 000 in private setups. We decided to start doing one free surgery for anyone who has got cataract in two eyes, bilateral cataract blindness.

So we do one for free, and you pay for the other one. If I open one eye, the man goes to work and can raise enough money to open the other eye, a win-win for him”.

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