By Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo
Worried by the spate of tendencies of turning blind among children in Osun State, The Osun State Eye Health Committee has intensified efforts in tackling the situation to help children protect their eyes and have good sight.
As part of its efforts to achieve this, the committee, in collaboration with a community based nonprofit organisation, Community Advancement Initiative for Self-Reliance (CAI4SR), took eye health outreach to various rural communities across the state.
The committee comprises health workers including medical doctors drawn from the state ministry of health, education specialists selected from the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and other stakeholders picked from different walks of life.
At the palace of Aragbiji of Aragbiji, Oba AbdulRasheed Olabomi, the committee spent a whole day attending to children from Iragbiji and its neighboring communities.
Also, some elderly persons took advantage of the eye health outreach to treat their eyes, and get medication, while those with severe cases were referred to the state hospital in Osogbo, the state capital.
The Executive Director of CAI4SR, Mrs Eni Ayeni, who is also the implementing partner of the Seeing Is Believing project in Osun State, said the eye health outreach was part of events to commemorate the 2019 World Sight Day with the theme: “Vision First”.
She said: “This is part of moves to detect eye problems among school pupils and prevent childhood blindness. We are doing this with the support of Christoffel Blinden Mission (CBM ) UK under the flagship programme of Standard Chartered Bank, Seeing is Believing (SiB).
“At least, we have conducted eye screening for 159,487 school pupils and distributed over 1,500 free spectacles to children in Osun State.
She added that in order to ensure prompt eye treatment in Osun State, low vision devices worth N10 million were provided for the state Specialist Hospital Asubiaro in Osogbo and Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Hospital Ipetumodu, which are the two focal secondary facilities for the project in the state.
She said, “In this programme, we have trained over 551 teachers across elementary and middle schools, 110 traditional birth attendants (TBA), 55 general nurses and mid-wives and 221 Community Health Extension Workers on child eye health across the 30 local government areas.
“We also trained three optometrist and three ophthalmic nurses on Low Vision and child eye health. We also ensured the inclusion of eye health in the harmonised strategic health plan of the Ministry of Health.
“We really have serious work to do because there are many children in the hard to reach communities in the state that we are yet to reach. Most of the serious cases are hidden in such communities.”
“I call on the state government, well-to-do members of society and donors to support us. CAI4SR has the capacity to implement more of such projects to other states. SiB project is a project to be replicated,” Ayeni said.
Speaking on behalf of the people, the Aragbiji, commended the state Governor, Mr Gboyega Oyetola for the measure to curtail blindness among children in the state.
The monarch also lauded the partners who are working together to ensure that children in the state have good sight to be able to go to school, learn, become educated and fulfill their potentials in life.