FG committed to achieving universal eye health —Health minister

The Federal Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Health is working towards achieving a universal eye health through the Universal Health Coverage.

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who was represented  by the Permanent Secretary, in the ministry Mr Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi, disclosed this at the World Sight Day with the theme: ‘Vision First’, sub-theme, ‘Beyond Vision 2020’ recently in Abuja.

The minister pointed out that the unreached/underserved who are often left behind when issues of health and development are discussed are at the core of this drive.

These people include people with disabilities, children, women, the elderly, youths the urban poor and people in rural areas.

Launching the book titled ‘Treatment Guidelines for Delivery of Child Eye Health Services In Nigeria’, Dr. Ehanire said the book would serve as a guideline in assisting the affected

He stated that the national health policy makes promotion and improvement of eye care services a priority in Nigeria. He maintained that the Federal government through the health ministry, its various departments and agencies are working towards achieving this by integrating eye care services into existing national health programmes, building capacity for eye health and strengthening the evidence base for eye health problems and care.

The minister said the maiden edition of the National Eye Health Policy 2019 is developed in context and agreement with the national health policy which provided a framework for collective scale-up of eye care service delivery at all levels, including child eye care, adding that it advocates for the promotion, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services.

The minister further stated that the federal government has partnered with private, public health and non- health sector, to provide eye health programme to Nigerians, and is focusing on plans and programmes that will enable coverage to more people by ensuring national spread of comprehensive eye care services.

Mr Abdullahi said that the Federal Ministry of Health is working on strategies to bridge equity gaps in access to eye care, intensify prevention and control of avoidable blindness and strengthen collaborations amongst partners and stakeholders in matters relating to eye health care.

The permanent secretary stated that the vision of the ministry is to have a Nigeria where no one is needlessly visually impaired and to ensure that visual loss can achieve their full potential with equitable access to comprehensive eye care services.

He assured of the Ministry’s continuous cooperation and support to ensure the reduction in the burden of avoidable blindness and visual impairment in Nigeria.

The Head, National Eye Health Programme, Dr. Oteri Okolo, in her update on Eye Health Programme in Nigeria said that the aim of the public lecture was to educate the public, especially policy and decision makers, about Vision 2020, and to generate support for blindness prevention with emphasis on the paediatric group.

She stressed that the ‘World Sight Day public’ lecture is also an opportunity for people working on eye health in Nigeria to review what has been achieved and to chart a way forward beyond vision 2020.

In her remarks, Dr.Okolo stated that the Federal Ministry of Health recognises that Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is fundamental for achieving sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related not only to health and well-being, but to the end poverty, ensure quality education, achieve gender equality and many more while reaching the goals and target.

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