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Airtel Giving Vision To Under Privileged Children

By Adebayo Dawodu
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Leading Telecommunications giant Airtel, since its advent in Nigeria, June 2010, has left no one in doubt about its vision “to be the most loved brand in the daily lives of Nigerians”. Unwavering in its commitment to connect with the Nigerian people, not only does it provide innovative products at affordable rates, but also offered good deeds through Social interventions.

The Telecoms service provider promised novel and world class services, and one more thing: to contribute significantly to the alleviation of the challenges faced by the privileged. So, when in February 2011, it announced its Adopt-A-School initiative with the adoption of Oremeji Primary School 2 in Ajegunle, Lagos State, the message became even clearer. Since then, Airtel has gone on to Adopt three more government-owned public primary schools; St. John's Primary School Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State; Community Primary School, Amumara, Imo State and Presbyterian Primary School, Ediba Abi, Cross River States.

Today, Airtel has gone beyond merely adopting primary schools, provision of infrastructure, uniforms, learning materials for the pupils and training of their teachers. It has gone one step ahead to contribute holistically to the wellbeing of the pupils of their adopted schools, hence, the introduction of the free Health checks in these schools.

Recently, Airtel organized free eye screening exercise in three of its adopted schools; St. John's Primary School Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State; Community Primary School, Amumara, Imo State, and Presbyterian Primary School, Ediba Abi , Cross River State.

Speaking about the eye screening exercise which was flagged off on Monday, March 17th in Community Primary School, Amumara, Imo State, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Airtel Nigeria, Segun Ogunsanya, said the exercise is essential considering the important of a healthy vision, noting that “one of the priorities of VISION 2020 program is controlling blindness in children which means that we have to invest in eye care. This is something Airtel is proud to be involved in across our adopted schools, particularly because the children involved are from less privileged homes.”

The exercise in the Adopted schools, which was borne out of the company's desire to help in building a stronger, healthier generation of achievers as reiterated in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and VISION 2020 the global right to sight, was an interesting affair. From the children who couldn't wait to be screened, extremely intrigued by the impressive array of equipment the Doctors displayed and how they worked, to the ones who feigned poor sight the moment they realized the doctors were giving out free glasses to the ones that required them. The excitement was infectious!

In Community Primary School Amumara, Mrs. Stella Onyeonuziri, Parent of Michael Onyeonuziri, a Primary Six pupil that was screened enthused that “what Airtel is doing is very good and I am very proud that my child is a pupil of the 'Airtel school”. I ask God to continue to Bless Airtel because of how they care for our children.”

After undergoing her screening, Alhaja Mistura Balogun, Education Secretary Ijebu North, Ogun State commended Airtel Nigeria for touching the lives of the pupils and Teachers in the Local Government, saying other Telcos should emulate them.

The eye screening programme was implemented by a team of Ophthalmologists from Ultimate Eye Clinic, a renowned eye care provider to major Health Management Organizations in Nigeria. The Clinic provided glasses and eye treatment to pupils and teachers on a need-to-have basis without any financial implications for the beneficiaries.

The exercise which was concluded on Wednesday 2nd of April, after a two-day screening at St. John's Primary School, Ogun State had a total of 1,165 pupils, 83 Teachers and 98 community people screened. 144 free eye glasses were given to pupils, Teachers, community and some members of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) in the respective states.

Nigeria currently has over four million people suffering from eye problems 80% of which are from avoidable causes. Of this figure which was obtained from the Federal Ministry of Health in 2011, one million are blind while three million are visually impaired. 50% of avoidable blindness was attributed to cataract, followed by glaucoma 16%, corneal opacity 12%, trachoma 4%, optic Atrophy 3% and refractive error being the major cause of visual impairment. It is feared that about 50% of children who become blind before age five may not leave to see their sixth birthday.

It will be recalled that in March 2012, Airtel in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and doctors from The Roding Medical Center, Victoria Island, Lagos to conduct a Health Awareness Campaign in Oremeji Primary School, Ajegunle, Lagos.

The Health Awareness Campaign involved a general health check on the teachers and students of the school, including eye screening, cardiovascular, height and weight checks according to the National Centre for Health Statistics and a deworming exercise for the pupils as prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Over 400 pupils, teachers and parents of Oremeji Primary School, Ajegunle, benefitted from the exercise.

“For us at Airtel Nigeria, we perceive ourselves as more than just a connection. So, we seek ways to touch the lives of our customers, and even those who are not, because that is how we procure and maintain our social license to operate. Life is more than making or receiving calls, and even so, people must feel good about our organization to be able to give us their custom. Hence our involvement in giving back to the people in the communities we operate,” said Emeka Oparah, Vice President, Corporate Communications & CSR.

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