The Nigerian government has revealed that achieving universal optic health through Universal Health Coverage has remained its top priority.
This is as Nigeria joins the rest of the World to mark the World Sight Day.
The Nigerian Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire made the promise during a stakeholders meeting organised to mark the World Sight Day with the theme: “Vision First, Beyond Vision 2020’’ in Abuja.
He said that the Nigerian government, through the ministry of health and its various agencies and departments intends to achieve optic health by improving public awareness on eye health across the country.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Abdullazizi Abdullahi, the minister said that its core target include; people with disabilities, children, women, the unreached and under-served.
He lamented that most Nigerians are usually left behind when issues of health are discussed.
“The unreached and underserved, who are often left behind when issues of health and development are often discussed are at the core of this drive. They include people with disabilities, children, women, the elderly, youth, the urban poor and people in rural areas. It is, therefore, imperative that leadership and governance at all levels advocate for and mobilise resources to improve health coverage.
“The National Strategic Health Development Plan 2018-22 guides national and sub national governments on health sector priorities, identifying multi sectoral collaborations that address social determinants of health against the backdrop of health related sustainable development goals,” he said.
The minister also said that the maiden edition of the National Eye Health Policy 2019 is developed in context and agreement with the National Health Policy provides a framework for collective scale up for eye care service delivery at all levels including child eye care.
“It advocates promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services,’’ he said.
In his address, the Country Director, Christoffel Blinden Mission (CBM), Mr. Bright Ekweremadu advised Nigerians to take care of their eyes.
“Eye health has been very badly neglected in Nigeria and thought that eye health should be prioritised giving the fact that eye is a very important part of the body. So, I think it’s something that everybody needs to rally round and pay attention to,” Ekweremadu said.
He also reaffirmed the commitment of the organisation to continue to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities irrespective of race, gender and religion.
The President Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria, Dr, Bade Ogundipe urged Nigerians to imbibe the habit of undergoing regular eye screening for early detection of eye diseases, especially those with family history of glaucoma.
He also said that glaucoma is leading cause of blindness in Nigeria.
Dr. Ogundipe revealed that early detection through regular and complete eye examination was crucial to protecting vision from damage caused by glaucoma.
“Glaucoma is an eye disease that affects the optic nerves, gradually damaging the fibres in an irreversible manner till blindness occurred, if no intervention is undertaken. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world.
“Glaucoma has no cure and many people don’t know that they have it. “It is only when they undergo free eye screening exercises that they often discover it.
“Glaucoma is referred to as ‘the silent thief of sight’. This is because it slowly damages the eye and causes irreversible loss of vision to the sufferer. So, glaucoma can be avoided if the disease is discovered early,” he added.
The eye specialist stated that to beat invisible glaucoma in the country, Nigerians should walk into any eye care standard facility and have their eyes evaluated or checked for glaucoma.
While giving an update on “Eye Health Programme in Nigeria,” the National Eye Health Coordinator at the Ministry of Health, Dr Oteri Okolo said that the document would fast tract comprehensive eye care in Nigeria.
She said that the ministry is working towards bringing eye care closer to the people.