By Francis Sardauna
A United Arab Emirates (UAE) based non-governmental organiSation, Noor Dubai Foundation on Friday revealed that Katsina State has 25,000 blind persons with only four ophthalmologists spearheading its eye care centre.
Pained by the menace, the charitable organisation in collaboration with the state government, said it had inaugurated a four-year integrated and sustainable eye care programme to improve quality of life and socioeconomic status of the affected persons.
The representative of the foundation, Dr. Rabiu Mansour, who disclosed this to journalists in Katsina while speaking on the achievements of the programme, said six million Katsina citizens were expected to benefit from the programme within the period under review.
He explained that the foundation, which commenced the programme in October 2019, had so far conducted 1,039 successful cataract surgeries and eye screening for 5,238 patients in Katsina, Daura and Funtua general hospitals within four months.
He reiterated that 2,313 visually impaired persons had been treated with either medications or eye glasses, six ophthalmologists and optometrists and one optician had been employed to boost efficient service delivery.
“Katsina state has over 25,000 blind people and another 100,000 people with some visual loss, but there are only four ophthalmologists to cater for this population. Currently only about 10 to15 per cent of eye care services are being covered in the state.
“In line with Noor Dubai Foundation’s new strategic plan, it set up a four- year (2019-2023) integrated and sustainable comprehensive eye care programme in partnership with Katsina state government. In addition, a Nigerian office of the Noor Dubai Foundation have been set up in Katsina.
“The programme is aim at improving quality of life and socioeconomic status of people of the state through improved access to quality eye care. It will cost about $2 million with the Katsina state government contributing additional 20 per cent in kind.
“We intend to conduct cataract surgeries for 12,000 people to restore their sights and 37,000 people are to be screened and treated for eye diseases. While 320,000 school children will also undergo eye screening and treatment. And 1,000 people with permanent visual loss will be rehabilitated”, he added.
In his remarks, the State Commissioner for Health, Yakubu Nuhu Danji, said about 4,000 visually impaired people were consulted and 2,000 have been treated by the foundation.
While admitting that the state has 25,000 people suffering from blindness, the commissioner said the alliance between state government and the foundation would eradicate the impediment.
He said: “As you are all aware, Katsina state has 25,000 people suffering from blindness and right now we only have four ophthalmologists manning the eye centre we have”.
Danja said the state government had inaugurated an awareness committee to educate the residents, particularly rural dwellers on the need to patronise the eye care centres to prevent them from impairment.
Meanwhile, the foundation, established by the Vice President, Prime Minister of UAE and the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum in 2010 focused on prevention of blindness and visual impairment globally.
Over 27 million people in 18 countries across Africa and Asia were said to have benefited from the free treatment and prevention programmes conducted by the Foundation.