By: PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
No fewer than 2,500 correctable eye glasses have been donated to children in Akwa Ibom State suffering poor vision, courtesy of Brien Holden Vision Institute, a non-governmental international organisation.
Dr Anne Ebri, the Institute Sub-Regional Manager (West Africa) stated this on Thursday during the 2019 World Sight Day organised by Seeing Is Believing ‘SIB’ Comprehensive Child Eye Health Project in Akwa Ibom with the theme: Vision First.
Ebri also hinted that some of the children from zero to sixteen years with visual impairment have obtained free eye treatments while some are undergoing surgery.
The Sub-Regional Manager who noted that “any child that is born cannot be said of not having eye problem” however maintained that government has enormous role to play in enhancing children’s vision to boost their academic performance.
She stressed the need for governments and other relevant authorities to examine children’s eyes before starting school to eliminate poor academic performance as most poor academic performances by children in school are as a result of poor/low vision.
“In 2017, we started children eye health project, and the children eye health project cut across Akwa Ibom and Cross River states. We were to look at half a million children and have their eyes screened and we have achieved that, Akwa Ibom alone has contributed over 250,000.
“In the course of having their eyes screened, we created health education to staff of primary health care, while teachers that are in schools were trained to vision-screened students. From these two areas, we have been able to identify children with significant eye problem.
“Free medical treatments have been given to over 21,000 children as a result of this project, and in Akwa Ibom over 2,500 children have received eye glasses and more children are required to be given glasses and some have left to acquire free surgery. Dr. Ebri stated.
In her welcome address, Desk Officer, Seen Is Believing ‘SIB’ Comprehensive Child Eye Health Project, Ministry of Health in the State, Dr. Eyitu Isong commended the state government, particularly Commissioner for Health for their cooperation and support to the project.
Isong explained that, on its part, Comprehensive Child Eye Health Project has helped children with impaired vision to regain their sight.
She further explained that since 2017, about 221 primary health centres have been visited across the state to provide information about how to care for eye of children.
Isong maintained that if right environment is not created for a child to have a healthy sight, that child cannot develop well, stressing, “Child eye health is very important project that calls for all hands to be on deck in other to care for the eye of our children through sustainable programme.”
Mr. Jake Egbele, Chief Executive Officer of Albino Foundation, Abuja explained his ordeal of dropping out of school sequel to poor vision, base on this he said, “I took it upon myself to ensure that no child suffers the same fate.”
Egbele appealed to state government to partner with Brien Holden Vision Institute to address the problem of eye among the people, particularly children.
“There is need for all to work together irrespective of political affiliations to save life”, he charged
He urged that before a child goes to school; his or her eyes should be tested so that the problem is detected early.
He called on the general public not to discriminate people with albinism for they are also members of the society, adding, “Albinism is not a disease, it a true definition of low vision”