At least 1.6 million Nigerians are suffering from severe eye impairment or outright blindness, but Christian Broadcasting Network Africa and MeCure Eye Center hopes to change the narrative through free cataract surgeries across Nigeria.
Sunday Ehigiator writes:
“The world is beautiful only to those who can see it.” This is one famous quote that depicts the importance of the eyes. But what happens to those who cannot see? How then can they see the world and the beauty that lies within it?
This is one question 36 million people globally, who cannot tell between light and darkness, will struggle to answer. While others have the luxury of enjoying the bright light, there are yet others who make do with dim lusters of life, as they will only see nothing.
While this has continued to be a global concern, 253 million are at risk of joining this 36 million. They are people already developing severe or moderate visual impairment, and to make matters worse, there are another 1.1 billion people globally with near-vision impairment. Unfortunately, 89 per cent of those affected live in low and middle-income countries like Nigeria where about 55 per cent of women take a major chunk of the prevalence.
According to experts, eye care is one of the greatest public health challenges in this 21st century. According to statistics, of the over 39million people worldwide suffering from unnecessary blindness; more than half are due to cataract; which can be surgically treated. Most of the people affected live in the developing world, where poor nutrition and limited access to eye care can mean a life limited by needless blindness.
Prevalence in Nigeria
However, 80 per cent of global blindness is reversible or preventable. Numerous studies have shown that sight restoration with cataract surgery is among the most cost-effective interventions in healthcare. A simple, low-cost, one-time procedure can restore full sight to patients with cataracts. But, in too many places in Nigeria, due to poverty and financial incapability, most cataract patients are not able to sponsor their surgery.
On specifics, the prevalence in Nigeria is one of the highest globally, amounting to about 1.6 million with severe eye impairment or outright blindness, while one of the major causes of blindness in the country is cataract.
It is in tackling this scourge that Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) Africa and Me Cure Eye Centre are championing interventions to reduce the burden in Nigeria. CBN Africa understanding the plight of these people, last month, embarked on free cataract surgery and treatment for less privileged patients who cannot afford the cost of surgery, with a strong believe that, the free cataract surgery will reduce the rate of blindness and contribute towards the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Developmental Goals.
While CBN Africa provided the medical consumables, Me Cure made available the medical personnel (Ophthalmologists, Optometrist etc).
The Regional Director of CBN Africa, Dr. Felix Oisamoje, speaking with THISDAY, disclosed that this was a milestone collaboration with Me-Cure Eye Centre. Providing free eye test, cataract surgery and treatment for less privileged patients is a great endeavour. He added that it will definitely go a long way in providing healthcare succour to the needy, and further contribute significantly to improving the quality of life and eye care of individuals in Nigeria.
According to him, “eye care is one of the greatest public health challenges for the 21st century. The World Health Organisation asserts that 75 per cent of blindness all over the world can actually be prevented or treated. The main causes of avoidable blindness and serious visual loss are uncorrected refractive errors, and un-operated cataract among others.
“Most of these affected people live in the developing world. Poor nutrition and limited access to eye care can mean a life limited needlessly by blindness. CBN Africa understands the plight of these people, and is embarking on this free cataract surgery and treatment for less privileged patients. They definitely cannot afford the cost of the surgery.”
Speaking to THISDAY, the Chief Operating Officer, Me-Cure Eye Center, Dr. Adegboyega Alabi, said: “Cataract has been one of the major causes of blindness; it has cost millions of people loss of sight. For people who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is a bit like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window. Clouded vision triggered by cataracts can make it more problematic to read, drive a car (especially at night) or see the expression on someone’s face.
“Most cataracts grow slowly and don’t disturb your eyesight early on but with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with vision and may eventually lead to blindness if not attended to on time.
“Initially, stronger eyeglasses can help you to deal with cataracts but if impaired vision impedes with your normal activities, you might need cataract surgery. Providentially, cataract surgery is generally a safe, effective procedure to overcome cataract ailment one and for all. We are grateful and we commended the Christian Broadcasting Network Africa for supporting this noble partnership aimed at bringing succour to many indigent Nigerians who cannot afford the cost of eye treatment and cataract surgery.
“And as it meets up with our Cooperate Social Responsibility (CSR) standards, we have no choice but to support them with our equipment, nurses and surgeons to make this work out fine; even at zero cost on CBN of patients referred.”
The Head of Partners Relations Department CBN Africa, Mr. Enoch Oyeduntan, added that “this humanitarian partnership is a beneficial one for CBN Africa and Me Cure Eye Centre.
We plan to reach out to those who are affected by cataract and other eye related ailments annually. We combat them in their early stages before they become complicated and more difficult to remedy.
“Our 700 Club Partners have remained our backbone in supporting this highly profound collaboration with Me-Cure Eye Centre. We seek to put smiles on the faces of poor people who cannot afford a surgery.”
He said the medical mission was to complement its free medical services to various rural communities. The mission has helped the less-privileged with high success rate recorded. “In 2016, about 50 indigent cataract patients from Makoko slum in Lagos were operated on. While another over 1000 people have their eyes screened and treated and it was a success story.”
Unable to curtail his joy, an elderly man, Innocent O, who commended the donors for the generous gesture. He said it would not have been impossible to treat himself if not for the free eye surgery.
He said: “I have been to several hospitals, done series of tests, yet no hope in regaining my sight. Until I came in contact with CBN Africa, “The 700 Club”, who offered to conduct the surgery free of charge.
“This is hope rekindled; God will continue to help our helpers. I therefore, use this opportunity to appeal to well-meaning Nigerians and philanthropists to come to the aid of the less privilege in the society. I ask that they support an organisation like CBN Africa in what they do; because it is capital intensive. If more people could support them financially, I believe they would be able to reach out to more people. There are still many in the condition I used to be before now, scattered all over the country.”
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