Dr Okolo Ateri, the National Coordinator, National Eye Health Programme,
Federal Ministry of Health, says the Federal Government is discussing with pharmaceutical companies to reduce the cost of glaucoma medication.
Ateri disclosed this at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday as part of activities to commemorate the 2019 World Sight Day.
World Sight Day is observed annually on the second Thursday of October. It is a global event to draw attention to causes
of blindness and vision impairment, as well as raise awareness on ways to avoid the disease.
The Day has “Vision First” as its theme for 2019.
The national coordinator said glaucoma is the second commonest cause of irreversible blindness and accounts for about 16.7 per
cent blindness in the country.
She added that Nigerians were susceptible to glaucoma and that glaucoma was one of the risk factors of blindness among the black race.
She also disclosed that the National Eye Health Policy would focus on integrating eye health care into the primary health care centres, noting that
the Primary Health Care (PHC) was the foundation for delivery of Universal Health Coverage services.
She explained that the Ministry of Health would soon domesticate World Health Organisation’s (WHO) policy on eye health
to enhance access to eye health care services in the country.
She noted that “beyond treating eye conditions, we want promote eye care and establish prevention and that basically happens at
the primary level.”
The ministry was also working to boost blindness prevention and to reduce the high number of the condition in the country.
She, therefore, urged Nigerians to go for routine eye check at least once a year to address the challenge.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the theme of the 2019 world sight day — “Vision First” was a call to action,
which was related to WHO global plan 2014-2019, emphasising universal eye health.
He said that the theme was also a call to ensure that everyone everywhere had access to preventive, curative and rehabilitative
eye health services at cost that did not further impoverish him or her.
The minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Abdullahi Mashi, said that Nigeria had been working
with partners to raise awareness on the causes of avoidable blindness and its solutions.
He added that the ministry, with support from partners, was doing a lot to reduce the backlog of cataract cases in the country.
He reiterated the commitment of Federal Government to reduce vision impairment by 25 per cent in the year 2020.
Dr Uche Ajani, the Permanent Secretary, Service Policy and Strategy, Head of Service of the Federation, appealed to eye care providers
in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to team up to address sight challenges.
Ajani, who is a Consultant Ophthalmologist, said: “if Abuja gets it rights, then the nation will get it right; policies would be
formulated that would go down to be implemented in all states.
“Apart from sight, we also need them to look into rehabilitation of low vision challenge and vision aid challenge because it
was a challenge that never got any attention.”
She added that for low vision aid, Nigeria needed to evolve strategies toward alleviating the challenge.
She commended the ministry for unveiling the new Eye Health Policy during the recent National Council of Health
meeting in Delta, but appealed for effective implementation of the policy to achieve the desired goal. (NAN)
Edited by Gregg Mmaduakolam/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu