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Medical expert tasks government, stakeholders on improved eye care services



• Says 4.5m Nigerians risk total blindness
President of the Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA), Dr. Damian Echendu has called on government and health sector stakeholders to provide adequate infrastructure and appropriate technologies for vulnerable groups to have easy access to better eye and clinical care.

He said more compelling consideration should be given to eye care patients, as well as the poor and marginalised who cannot afford the financial burden, insisting that without functional vision, the wellbeing, socio-economic and earning potential of people suffers.

He stated this while briefing journalists yesterday in Benin City, Edo State ahead of this year’s NOA Conference, Expo and 41st Annual General Meeting (AGM) slated for July 5 to July 8, pointing out that eye care was the most neglected healthcare in the country.

Echendu said the conference, with the theme: “Better Eye Health, The Responsibility of All–The Time is Now,” could not have come at a better time.

He added that a 2014 World Health Organisation (WHO) report revealed that globally, there are about 285 million visually impaired people, 39 million people living with total blindness, while 80 per cent of the visually impaired live in the developing countries, including Nigeria.

“The 2006 national eye survey in Nigeria showed that 4.5 million adults, who are 40 years and above have moderate to severe visual impairment or blindness.

“Traditionally, eye care has been among the most neglected of health care services, if not the most neglected, owing to the erroneous belief that eye problems are not mortal, in spite of evidences that vision impairment increases the risk of mortality and morbidity from other chronic conditions and related injuries.”

“It is also associated with reduced quality of life as eye and vision health is not adequately recognised as a population health priority,” he added.

Echendu contended that public health action has been extremely limited, insisting the more compelling consideration should have been that without functional vision, the wellbeing, socio-economic and earning potential of any life suffers immeasurably.

Echendu, who lamented the poor investment by government and other healthcare stakeholders in providing adequate infrastructure and appropriate technologies for persons seeking eye care services, said all must unite in creating the required level of awareness for eye care in the country.

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