No fewer than 200 Lagos residents from Epe and Badagry divisions of Lagos have benefitted from a free eye surgical expedition programme sponsored by the Lagos State Government as part of efforts to reduce blinding eye conditions amongst residents.
The surgical exercise which was carried out between Tuesday 6th and Thursday 8th December, 2022 in partnership with a leading eye care foundation, the Indo Eye Care Foundation, was preceded by a free screening exercise where over 1000 people were screened for varying blinding conditions.
Speaking during his visit to the screening site, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye explained that the Lagos State Government regularly embarked on eye care outreaches to communities as part of efforts to improve access to good eye care services and prevent avoidable blindness.
In his words: “What we are trying to do is to prevent avoidable blindness in people so that people get access to good eye health care services irrespective of their financial status. People who will otherwise be blind can have their sight restored through simple surgeries which we are providing free of charge. These surgeries are funded by the State government under the leadership of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu who is ensuring that no one is left behind in the State healthcare system”.
Ogboye further explained that the free surgical expedition programme is targeted at addressing cataract and pterygium excision which are amongst the leading cause of blindness, vision loss and eye impairment worldwide, adding that the programme is the fulfilment of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s promise to increase access to qualitative eye health care services in Lagos communities.
He disclosed that the surgical expedition will be an annual programme, adding that the Lagos State Government will continue to partner with Indo Eye Care Foundation to bring relief to residents in dire need of surgical intervention for sight restoration.
“We intend to take on more people each year, especially with the support of the Indo Eye Foundation. We can take a certain number, and with their help, we can expand that number and improve on the number of people we are dealing with, and this is something that is very important to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, He has insisted that we take this service to every nook and crannies of this State to reduce and eliminate blindness”, the Permanent Secretary stated.
He noted that medical expeditions outreaches are part of the Ministry’s strategy to support the routine healthcare system targeting a segment of the population who cannot afford treatment for eye healthcare services.
“Sometimes people are overlooked in the routine health care system. This is a way to come out of the system and do this outreach, especially because it is targeted at people who would normally not afford treatment, and so it is a supportive service and not in any way a replacement of the system”, Ogboye said.
The Permanent Secretary, therefore, urged citizens to get their eyes checked at least once every year especially if 40 and above, saying “Get an eye check done, and if there is any problem affecting your vision don’t assume it is just age, go and see a doctor let them see what it is and see if it is something they can correct or at least manage”.
Speaking in the same vein, the Director, Medical Administration, Training and Programmes in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Olunmilayo Shokunbi explained that the Blindness Prevention Programme Unit in the Ministry of Health, which is saddled with the responsibility of reducing blindness among the citizens of Lagos State, is responsible for the free surgical expedition programme.
She disclosed that Ikorodu and Lagos divisions had earlier benefitted from the surgery programme in October, adding that the outreach team will move to other divisions in the course of the expedition.
One of the beneficiaries of the surgery programme, Abdul-Fatai Shabi, a resident of Epe Local Government Area, thanked the Lagos State Government for the intervention which has brought much relief to many like him in the State.