Stakeholders in the health sector has charged all Nigerians to take preventive measures to ensure that childhood blindness is reduced drastically in Nigeria.
The SIB Program Manager, Health Development Support Program, Mr Abalis Dasat said the organisation has budgeted the sum of 1.5 Billon Naira to cater for 1.5 million children in Nigeria.
He made the disclosure at the SIB Meeting with Health Correspondent in Abuja.
The Program Manager emphasized that the project has contributed to the reduction of avoidable blindness and visual impairment in the country.
“We are implementing the program in 11 states, The outcome has been tremendous, through the provision of comprehensive eye care services to 1.5 million children from the age of 0-14 years, within a period of three years.
We are therefore calling on all Nigerians to go to the closest Teaching Hospital to be able to access the free health care services available to those with eye defects in the country.”
According to him, the project has been able to reach people in different states in the country, While stating that part of the core objectives of the organisation is to improve the quality of interaction and education of blind children, and those with severe visual impairment.
In the same vein, he charged parents to give close supervision to their children, so as to be able to detect when they have low vision, such that they may have minimal risk as they go on further in life.
“Some eye defect can easily be detected through the use of magnifier and telescope. Each patient are usually allocated a certain sum of money through which they can access free eye treatment. Early detection is usually critical in preventing childhood blindness”.
An Opthamologist , Dr Dora Salihu while speaking on some of the major barriers associated with blindness, highlighted that some parents accept blindness as the will of God, and as such do not put in enough effort that will alleviate the suffering of their child.
“In some instances some parents love to patronize chemist shop in their locality, while in actual fact most of the shop operators, do not have the necessary skills to meet the challenge of the eye defect.
It is very essential to do follow up on children that are experiencing eye defect. Sometimes lack of counselling services for the parents prevent them from making considerable progress.”
According to her, 7-31 percent of the childhood disease in the country can be prevented.
The eye specialist said some of the causes of eye defect could happen whenever there is a malfunction in some parts of the eyes, such as Cornea, Retina, and Optic Nerve. Noting that Cornel opacity is the leading cause of childhood diseases In Nigeria.
The Eye specialist explained that the use of Traditional medication sometimes have adverse effect on the health of the users.
She however advised parents and Guardians to ensure that their children or ward do not play with harmful objects that will predispose them to eye disease.
In addition she noted that Cataract occurs due to negligence in not accessing specialised eye care.
Dr Chinenye Ohuabunwa , Consultant Opthamologist , Bwari General Hospital spoke on the need for all Nigerians to stop stigmatizing children that are born blind.
“This tends to have a large psychological effect on the moral of the children, as well as the physical development.
Most of the causes of childhood diseases are preventable and avoidable. The major causes of childhood disease varies widely from region to region.”
In the same vein, she said that the illiteracy level and low socio economic factors have a way of contributing to the eye defect in the society.
She further advised mothers to stop the practice of using breast milk on the eye of the baby, as it further contribute by adding more growth of bacteria on the surface of the eye.
While speaking about Cataract, she said there is need for long term follow up on the child, and the need for them to be properly rehabilitated and monitored.
“Due to better equipment and more care, more children now have access to affordable and accessible services. It is necessary for Guardians and Parents to always avail their wards of constant eye check-up at all times.”
She further charged media practitioners to always engage in constant sensitization such that the populace will be highly informed.
“Preventing childhood blindness requires access to prenatal care, primary health care, and good nutrition which is not often available in developing countries”. She added.