The acting National Chairman, Nigeria Ophthalmic Nurses Association, NONA, Stephen Lamiya has decried the deplorable state of healthcare facilities across the nation including training institutions for eye health professionals.
Mr. Lamiya, who spoke at the opening of 31st NONA’s annual national scientific conference tagged, ”Vision 2020 the journey so far” in Gombe on Tuesday, said Nigeria has less than 2000 ophthalmic nurses which is grossly inadequate considering the nation’s vast population.
He called on government at the state and federal levels to improve on the standard of training for ophthalmic nurses and equally train more nurses in the specialist group to meet up with modern challenges of providing standard eye health services.
Lamiya expressed the displeasure of the association on the deployment of ophthalmic nurses to areas outside their field of speciality.
“The authorities concerned should refrain from this ignoble act that can destroy the zeal of specialisation in nursing,” he added.
Also speaking while presenting the keynote address at the conference, a health expert, Musa Goyol said ”about 285 million people around the world suffer from vision impairment while 39 million of this number are completely blind.”
He listed the causes of blindness in Nigeria according to 2007 National Blindness Survey as cataract, Glaucoma, corneal scarring from all causes and uncorrected refractive errors.
“It is estimated that 1,130,000 individuals aged 40 years are currently blind in Nigeria, and the prevalence of blindness in people of all ages was estimated to be 0.78 per cent. The North-west geopolitical zone has the largest number of blind adults (28.6 per cent) while South West has 2.8 per cent).
“84 per cent of blindness is due to avoidable causes, cataract stands out as the first priority amongst the major causes of blindness, with an estimated present backlog of 16-20 million unoperated cases. The number of cataract operations/million population/per year is a useful measure of the delivery of eye care in different settings. This demonstrates great differences,” Goyal said.