By Franca Ofili
Abuja, – The Federal Ministry of Health says it will integrate the Primary Eye Care (PEC) into the Primary Health Care Services, reach the underserved in remote areas.
Prof. Afekhinde Omoti, the National Chairman, Eye Health Committee of the ministry said this in Abuja on Thursday during a media engagement in commemoration of the 2022 “World Sight Day (WSD).
The day is annually celebrated on Oct. 13, to raise global awareness about issues on eye health. themed “Love Your Eyes”.
“Before now as part of its commitment to preventing avoidable vision loss, the country developed the National Eye Health policy in 2019 and was adopted by states and the Federal Capital Territory.
“The National Eye Health policy provides a framework for collective direction to scale up eye care delivery at all levels of care.
“It will provide an interface for all stake holders to galvanize action for development in eye care.
“It is also a sustainable approach to achieving equitable access to quality eye care and strengthen Nigeria’s health system towards Universal Health Coverage.
“Our aim is to achieve this through the integration of Primary Eye Care (PEC) into Primary Health Care (PHC) in our health system, thus reaching out to the underserved in the remote areas of this country,’’ Omoti said.
According to him, the policy will help to improve accessibility of women and the elderly to eye care, since they are the most affected.
He said that under his watch the ministry domesticated policies in the National Primary Eye Care Trainer and Trainee manuals through the collective input of stakeholders.
Omoti said that the policy provided a framework for collective direction to scale up eye care delivery at all levels of care and provide an interface for all stakeholders.
He said that was with the intention of drawing attention to eye health and sensitisation of the populace on the need for regular eye checks.
According to him, the team emphasises the need for early diagnosis of eye diseases by eye health professionals because vision is important in socio-economic development of a people.
“Nigeria with other member states at the United Nations General Assembly recently adopted the vision for everyone; accelerating action to achieve the sustainable development goals resolution.
“It is aimed at committing the international community to eye health for the 1.1 billion people living with preventable sight loss by 2030. It thus enshrines eye health as part of the UN sustainable development goals,’’ he said.
Omoti said It has been established that the avoidance of blindness was key to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, which is no poverty.
He said that vision loss alone could cost the globe a whopping 411 billion dollars annually.
“In a country like ours with a prevalence of 0.78 per cent for blindness and 84 per cent of these blinding diseases are avoidable with possible causes like cataract and glaucoma.
“Others are refractive errors, uncorrected aphasia, harmful traditional eye practices, corneal opacities and Neglected Tropical Diseases like trachoma and Onchocerciasis,’’ he said.
According to him, lack of awareness and inaccessibility of eye care services are possible reasons why many Nigerians still remain visually impaired as they still seek unorthodox eye care.
He said that recently, Road Traffic Crashes (RTC) was on the rise particularly in low- and middle-income countries like Nigeria.
Omoti said that statistics showed that 20 per cent of all the traffic accidents and up to one-quarter of fatal and serious accidents are due to drivers with a diminished vigilance level.
“vision is key to achieving safe roads hence the need for awareness to be created among key stakeholders of public transport.
“Especially the drivers whose primary responsibility is to convey their passengers safely to their destination,’’ he said (NAN)