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Looming blindness epidemic in Nigeria

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By Mercy Kelani

FG should works towards avoiding a blindness epidemic in the country.

Out of the almost 300 million people that are blind in the world, it has been revealed by optometrists that 7 million people in Nigeria are blind. Across the world, almost 40 percent live with visual disability, with Nigeria having about 50 million people that have one form of visual disability or the other, causing limitations to their ability to do things, learn, work, or play. The Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA), established in 1968, seek solutions to the illness.

Dr. Obinna Awiaka, The National President, Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA), before the commencement of the NOA 45th National Conference and Vision Expo, in Abuja, stated that 80 percent of the causes of blindness and visual disabilities in the world are unavoidable. Many people ignorantly refuse to do eye examinations periodically or stick to preventive measures early. In worst cases, some patronize quack doctors who, most times, complicate their problems, thereby, making them spend more on a worsened problem.

Brain drain has worsened the burden of blindness in Nigeria.

It has been deduced that to have healthy eyesight, the resources needed makes up about 15 percent of what Nigeria or individuals will gain in Productivity per annum, if blindness is effectively fought against. Also, it has been discovered that the substantial Brain Drain of eye care professionals and many other health care professionals from Nigeria to other countries has really complicated the burden of blindness statistics in the country, and this requires urgent attention from all stakeholders, in order to avoid a blindness pandemic.

The theme of the national conference, “leveraging on partnerships to transform optometry and eye care in West Africa” gave an opportunity for stakeholders and experts to deliberate on issues affecting the profession, share ideas, knowledge and skills on the best way to overcome challenges and elevate the profession for the good of Nigerians. Also, optometrists and other experts in the eye care industry, during the conference, engaged in scientific sessions on research findings, innovations, and eye care improvements.

FG should pay attention to the plight of health workers.

In addition to the agenda of the national conference, there were deliberations on eye care delivery issues, spanning all health care levels, advocacy campaigns on eye health to target audiences and consultations on organized practice of optometry and training, locally, regionally, and globally. About 100 different exhibitors from respectable companies and industries, across the world, organized a broad showcase of their products and services. The conference also gave room for socio-cultural understanding of cultures in Nigeria, giving opportunity for business and social interactions as well.

The national president urged the Federal Government to attend to issues concerning the needs to healthcare workers in Nigeria, so as to enable the country a chance to fight and avoid the looming blindness epidemic. Adequate attention should be paid to eye care at all levels of healthcare, mostly primary eye care, in order to make sure that many more people are reached. To achieve this with the desired result, more optometrists are needed.

NOA would not cease to give their best to eye care.

Dr. Awiaka pledged that, as eye care professionals, they would never cease to give their best towards the changing of the narrative. Therefore, he calls on all potential stakeholders and other professionals to join hands together for the improvement of the delivery service of eye care in Nigeria. People should also go for regular eye examinations to know the state of the eye and take preventive measures in case of any diagnosis, to avoid blindness.

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NOA:  Website

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