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Dr. Juliana urges govt to Integrate Child Eye Health into Primary healthcare 

By Olawale Oyegbade, The Nigerian Voice, Osogbo
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A Public Health expert, Dr. Juliana Nathaniel has urged government to Integrate child eye health into the Primary healthcare for easy access for those at grassroots.

She further stated that the use of simple technology can help to reduce the magnitude of blindness among children in Nigeria.

At least, 1044 children between 0-14 years in Osun, Oyo, Ogun states who have severe visual impairment have benefited from the surgical intervention on the Seeing is Believing (SIB) programme on Comprensive Child Eye Health in Nigeria (CCEHiN).

She spoke at the Final Closeout and Dissemination Meeting of the project which held at the Auditorium of Eleta Eye Institute in Ibadan, Oyo state which saw a huge turnout of personnel from the Ministries of Health and Education as well as the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (SPHCDA) and the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) in the three states.

According to the SiB Programme Director, "Child eye health should be embedded in the policies and programme work of the Ministries of Health and Education".

She noted that SiB is a flagship of the Standard Chartered Bank’s community investment programme with a life span of three years. She said that SiB focused on strengthening of systems for child eye health service delivery in Nigeria in all components of child eye health care delivery including Promotion, Prevention, Curative Rehabilitation and inclusive education". She said SiB provided comprehensive child eye health services to about 1.5 million children aged 0-14 years across the country.

She made a presentation sharing the achievements of the project in cluster 1. Some of the achievements highlighted were; Training of health personnel and teachers was aimed at developing skilled and adequate manpower to provide comprehensive child eye health services at various levels of health care delivery system in the intervention communities.

A total of 29,9545 pupils benefitted from eye screening in schools and 118,557 screened at primary health care and community level. A total of 13,103,463 people were reached with awareness messages in all the states.

She added that 7094 spectacles, including Bi-focal and 270 low vision devices were given out to the children 0-14 years with severe visual impairment. She also stated that 1044 children were reached with surgical interventions of different kinds disaggregated as follows; 548 cataract surgeries, 346 major surgeries including Retinoblastoma and 150 Minor surgeries.

Nathaniel lauded the programme's implementing partners including the Eleta Eye Institute (EEI) and the Community Advancement Initiative for Self Reliance (CAI4SR) for their efforts. She also appreciated the effort of the Cluster Programme Consultant Mr. Duru Emeka Emmanuel for his coordination skills to ensure that all stakeholders worked hands in gloves to ensure the success of the programme.

She also expressed her gratitude to University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan and other health facilities that supported the programme and ensured that beneficiaries were provided with quality services.

She also mentioned that CBM being a disability-inclusive organization worked with two special schools in Oyo and Ogun state providing them with items such as; perkins braille machine, laptops, braille embosser, typewriter, brail papers, styluses, abacus, talking calculators, talking watches, white board, markers and dusters to enhance their learning.

She called on all stakeholders to be proactive in ensuring that the programme is sustained, as this will ensure that there is reduced prevalence of blindness and severe visual impairment among children in the three states.