By Lere Olayinka
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Ekiti State Governor, Engr Segun Oni has stressed the readiness of his administration to collaborate with the Lions Club District 404B, Nigeria to provide Free Eye Surgery to 100 needy patients with eye defects drawn from all over Nigeria at the newly established Ophthalmology Centre in the State.

According to a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Wale Ojo Lanre, Governor Oni while speaking in Lagos at the investiture of Senator Segun Bamigbetan-Baju as the Governor of the Lions Club District 404B, Nigeria and the launching of a N50 million fund for humanitarian services of the club for the 2010 and

2011 fiscal year said the gesture was part of the contributions of the State government to reducing the high rate of avoidable blindness in the country.

The governor, who noted that available statistics indicate that 80 percent of cases of blindness in Nigeria were preventable, said his administration was already working on a programme with the Federal Ministry of Education under which students in tertiary institutions with eye defects requiring surgery would be treated free of charge at the state's ophthalmology centre which is reputed to the best in the Western African sub region

He stressed that since the establishment of the Ophthalmology Centre, which began operation in January this year, over 4,000 patients have received free treatment, adding that 1,118 of the patients received free eye glasses, 135 had undergone free eye surgeries while another

405 were presently undergoing free surgical treatment.

The Governor, who emphasised that the free surgical programme was very dear to his heart, said his administration could boast of 2,000 free eye and general surgeries in the last three years.

Earlier the Governor of the Lions Club District 404B, Senator Segun Bamigbetan-Baju said apart from the proposed free surgeries, the club also intended to carry out free screening in schools, motor parks and market place as part of efforts at engendering healthy living and promoting good eye sight among the citizenry.

Bamigbetan-Baju who is the Nigerian Ambassador to Cuba said the Lion's club intended to take advantage of the state-of-art facilities available at the Ophthalmological Centre in Ado Ekiti to provide succour for patients with cataracts and other eye defects adding that many patients were already on the waiting list for surgery.

The Guest lecturer at the event, Prof. Folasade Akinsola, noted that a survey carried out between 2005 and 2007 indicates that over 1.5 million children and 1 million adults were blind while another 3 million people were virtually impaired in Nigeria.

Akinsola who is a Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Lagos said hypertension, diabetes, obesity, onchochiasis and glaucoma are major causes of blindness in Nigeria.