Experts seek import duty waiver on ophthalmic equipment
The Nigerian Optometry Association (NOA) has urged the Federal Government to approve waiver of import duties on all eye care equipment and supplies into the country.
The association said with the weak naira against the dollar, it would cost between N10 million and N15 million to set up an eye clinic.
President, NOA, Dr. Obinna Awiaka, who stated this at a press conference in Lagos, yesterday, to mark the World Sight Day, which holds today, October 14, 2021, lamented that despite the high freight rate into the country, the Customs import duty on eye care equipment is high between 28 and 30 per cent.
He said this is not obtainable in other developing African countries as they pay less than six per cent import duty, while in South Africa, there is total waiver on all medical equipment.
Awiaka noted that if priority attention was not given to the over 80 per cent of the country’s population experiencing avoidable blindness, the numbers would increase by 40 per cent over the next decade.
He said African developing countries, including Nigeria, were already losing about $3.2 billion every year due to blindness.
ALSO, the Assistant National Secretary, NOA, Dr. Priscilla Imade, canvassed improved funding and policies for the eye sector by the government, as well as creation of more job opportunities for optometrists at all levels to cater for the needs of the teeming population who need eye care services.
She further called for the establishment of pre-school eye health initiative, clinics at all Primary Health Centres (PHC) in the country to be manned by optometrists, compulsory pre-drivers’ licence eye examination programme, as well as compulsory pre-employment eye examination and inclusion of all stakeholders, including the NOA into the recently-constituted health sector reform committee.
Imade said the implications of visual impairment would place enormous economic, social and psychological burden on sufferers, families, communities and the nation.