The Nigerian Optometric Association, Imo State chapter, has revealed that there are only seven qualified optometrists in the employment of the state Ministry of Health. As a result of this, the association urged Governor Rochas Okorocha, to urgently extend his Rescue Mission agenda to eye departments of health institutions in the state to stem the rampant cases of blindness among the people.
Briefing newsmen yesterday, in Owerri on programmes slated for the state’s 2014 World Sight Day celebration, with the theme “No more avoidable blindness,” Dr. Madu disclosed that about 285 million people worldwide live with low vision and blindness of which 246 million have moderate or severe visual impairment. He lamented that with the increasing cases of avoidable blindness in the state, the state government needed to urgently engage more qualified optometrists in order to penetrate the rural areas for proper counseling, awareness and sensitisation of the people on steps to prevent blindness.
Madu insisted that the government should be strongly involved in the onslaught against blindness by equipping the health institutions, particularly the eye departments with modern eye treating equipment and in the training of optometrists even as he listed trachoma, cataract and glaucoma as among the primary diseases responsible for blindness in rural communities in the state.
“Blindness is something that can inflict an irreparable damage on one’s life and losing sight at any point in time, means losing one’s personality and all that one has projected in one’s life; hence the need for proper counseling and awareness on the importance of good sight in one’s life,” he said.Dr. Madu decried the continued infiltration of quacks in the optometric profession and enjoined journalists in the country to assist in the crusade against the trend, adding that the government has the singular responsibility to engage more trained professionals in optometry to spare more people from possible blindness.
He explained the World Sight Day celebration was put in place by the World Health Organization (WHO) to educate the people on the need for preventable blindness since 80% of the causes of the disease are preventable.
Meanwhile, Dr Madu has commended President Goodluck Jonathan for his bold steps to tackle the much dreaded Ebola virus disease as well as his efforts to tackle insurgency in the country and called on Nigerians to always stand solidly behind him.SUN