Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with CBM International, a Non Governmental organization has inaugurated “Seeing is Believing Programme” to provide comprehensive child eye health services to over 1.5 million children in Nigeria.
The ministry’s Director, Public Health, Dr Evelyn Ngige, officially inaugurated the programme in Abuja.
Ngige, who was represented by Dr Chukwuma Anike, the Director, Neglected Tropical Diseases in the ministry, declared that the programme had been accepted.
Ms Kirsty Smith, the Vice Chairperson, CMB International, said “seeing is believing” was a three-year (2017-2020) comprehensive child eye health programme aimed at making child eye health services available and accessible to Nigeria children.
She said “what we try to do in Nigeria is to reach over 1.5 million children from 0- 14 years who are at risk of blindness; blindness is preventable through a range of interventions.The programme will ensure that the children are linked to exclusive education because most of the children we are dealing with are excluded from education. We want to ensure holistic approach to the children’s health and to inclusive education and the services are at no cost to parents.”
Smith appealed to Federal Government to increase the coverage of cataract surgeries in the country and to focus on children.
She said “if we are not able to correct cataract in children, they may not be able to see in future. Children need cataract services before they reach their 17th birthday, if not, they will never regain their sight again even when they have surgery later in life.”
The National Coordinator of the Programme, Dr Juliana Nathaniel, said the programme was being implemented in 11 states of the federation and its handlers were divided into four clusters.
She said the first cluster comprised Oyo, Ogun, and Osun states; FCT, Nasarawa, and Plateau states were in the second cluster, while Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states were in the third cluster.
The national coordinator said the fourth cluster was made up of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states.
According to her, the programme is a standard chartered flagship to tackle avoidable blindness and visual impairment.
She added that “the initiative was a collaboration between Standard Chartered Bank, International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and leading international eye health organisations. Standard Chartered Bank has committed to raise 100 million Dollars between 2003 and 2020 for the programme through fund raiser and the bank’s matching funds. From 2003 to December 2017, a total of 98.4 million Dollars was raised, including the bank’s
She added that over one million Dollars has been raised in Nigeria for the programme.”