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LAGOS MOVES TO REDUCE VISUAL IMPAIRMENT AMONGST SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS

… Launches Secondary School Eye Programme

… Trains 306 Secondary School Teachers on Eye Screening

… Installs 175 Vision Corridors

In continuation of its effort to reduce visual impairment and eye conditions that could cause blindness amongst students, particularly pupils of Secondary Schools in Lagos, the State Government today launched the Secondary School Eye Health Programme, the first of its kind in Nigeria.

Speaking at the launch of the programme at Oregun Junior High School, Ikeja, the State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, noted that the secondary school eye health programme is one of the strategies of the State Government, through its Blindness Prevention Programme, to reduce the burden of childhood blindness in Lagos State.

He explained that the programme has four main components, namely: Training of teachers on vision screening in all State secondary schools starting with the junior secondary schools; Installation of vision screening boards in all the secondary schools; Equipping of all secondary schools with vision screening kits, and management and referral of students with eye conditions by the Blindness Preventive Team.

His words: “Vision impairment affects people of all ages and children are not left out. The leading causes of vision impairment and blindness are uncorrected refractive errors and cataracts. Visual impairment from uncorrected refractive error has immediate and long-term consequences.  It can hamper performance, reduce productivity and generally impair quality of life”. 

Abayomi enjoined teachers to also use the opportunity offered by the secondary eye health programme to examine their eyes, stressing that the programme is for students, teachers and school staff alike.

The Commissioner, who also noted that that WAEC performance of schools in Lagos has increased from 39 to 80 per cent, attributed the excellent performance to the hard work and dedication of teachers, adding that the feat is a testimonial of the successes of various education policies being implemented in the State.

“I can also assure you that this secondary school eye health programme will further enhance the performance of our students”, Abayomi asserted.

Speaking in the same vein, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye explained that the School Eye Health Programme was launched in the year 2006 and held in primary schools on an IBILE basis to carry out eye screening for the pupils, stating that the scope of the programme was expanded in 2012 to include training of teachers and installation of vision screening boards in all State primary schools.

The Permanent Secretary noted that it was in furtherance of the bid to address the burden of visual impairment and ensure better blindness prevention programme coverage that the secondary school eye health programme was launched.

Ogboye averred that beyond the School Eye health programme, the Lagos State School Health programme also addresses health issues that could militate against better learning experience including components such as the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), Dental Care, Personal and Environmental Hygiene and Mental Health Care.

Earlier in his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Mr. Abayomi Abolaji, lauded the collaboration between the Lagos State Ministries of Health and Education which resulted in the birthing of the expanded School Eye Health Programme – the Secondary School Eye Health Programme.

He informed that the programme will help alleviate the sufferings of students with visual impairment and ultimately improve the academic performance of secondary school pupils in the State.

“While we appreciate this initiative, we look up to more collaboration and assistance in this direction, which is geared towards making our policies in the education sector successful”, Abolaji enthused.

The high point of the event was the presentation of eyeglasses to students, vision screening kits to trained secondary schools teachers and unveiling of the vision corridor at the Oregun Junior High school.

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