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PWDs call for disability laws enforcement

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By Abraham Adekunle

Recent WHO report shows the number of visually impaired increasing daily.

Persons with Disabilities (PWD) in Abia State have called for strict enforcement of laws on disabilities nationwide, noting the recent report by World Health Organization (WHO) that the number of persons with visual impairment increases daily. According to WHO, at least 2.2 billion people have a near or distance vision impairment. Sadly, in at least one billion of these, vision impairment could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed. Day by day, preventable disabilities continue to occur worldwide including in Nigeria.

Now, these PWDs in Abia stated that the scenario became more worrisome as it clearly tells that there are considerable challenges of eye care, stressing that the impact of visual disability on a person’s life cannot be overstated. Chairman of the Abia State chapter of Nigeria Association of the Blind, Isaac William, made the call during the state’s 2023 White Cane and Safety Day Celebration, with the theme “The Inclusivity of Persons Living with Visual Impairment in Environmental Development Plans.”

Abia government committed to promoting rights of PWDs.

He said that the international White Cane and Safety Day was set aside to create awareness globally on visual impairment as a significant tool for the independence of the blind person. Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Ngozi Felix, who confirmed the WHO Report, added that the governor’s wife, Priscilla Otti, had taken the task of promoting and advocating equitable access to public services for persons with visual impairment as well as their capacity building in communities on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

She added that the government was committed to policies and programs geared towards protecting and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities. Special Assistant to the Governor on Disability Matters, David Anyaele, commended Governor Alex Otti for practically demonstrating inclusivity in the state, irrespective of their state, adding that the crucial way of enthroning equity is by enforcing the related laws. Speaking on the topic, ‘Removing Barriers from Blindness, a visually-impaired lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University(NAU), Awka, Anambra State, Dr. Kalu Ndukwe, agreed that such barriers could be removed by enforcing the extant laws, giving the blind right of way, employing and not discriminating against them, giving them equal access and rights to have self confidence, among others.

Vision impairment poses an enormous financial burden.

According to the WHO, vision impairment poses an enormous global financial burden with an estimated annual global productivity loss of about $411 billion purchasing power parity. This figure far outweighs the estimated cost gap of addressing the unmet need of vision impairment, which is estimated at about $25 billion. Apart from economic impact, vision impairment also impacts people personally. Young children with early onset irreversible severe vision impairment can experience delayed motor, language, emotional, social and cognitive development, with lifelong consequences. School-age children with vision impairment can also experience lower levels of educational achievement.

It also severely impacts quality of life among adult populations. Adults with vision impairment can experience lower rates of employment and higher rates of depression and anxiety. In the case of older adults, vision impairment can contribute to social isolation, difficulty walking, a higher risk of falls and fractures, and a greater likelihood of early entry into nursing or care homes. Although there are effective ways that visually impaired people go about their daily activities, they are still limited in what they can do.

WHO reveals strategies to address eye conditions.

There are effective interventions covering promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation which address the needs associated with eye conditions and vision impairment. Many vision loss cases can be prevented, such as those due to infections, trauma, unsafe traditional medicines, perinatal diseases, nutrition-related diseases, unsafe use or self-administration of topical treatment, but this is not possible for everyone. For many eye conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy, early detection and timely treatment are crucial to avoid irreversible vision loss. Spectacle correction for refractive error and surgery for cataract are also among the most cost-effective of all health-care interventions.

Related Link

United Nations: Website

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