Following a 2015 report by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness that close to two-thirds of the world’s blind are women, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development is partnering with the Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) to tackle the issue in the country.
The intention was disclosed yesterday in Abuja when the president of the Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA), Dr Damian Echendu led executive members of his association on a courtesy visit to the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan.
Damian said women’s visual impairment is compounded mainly by the fact that women do not have access to eye care services as much as men, especially in rural areas.
He said, “This is even worsened by the fact that women have a higher predisposition to potentially blinding conditions such as trachoma, diabetes, and even blindness secondary to domestic violence.
“Without proper intervention, women are missing out on opportunities in the society and are excluded from productive working lives, costing them their independence and having severe economic and social consequences.
“Individuals and families are frequently pushed into a cycle of deepening poverty because of their inability to see clearly.”
Of equal concern, the NOA president revealed, according to a study that at least, one in four school age children has vision problem that affects learning.
“The child does not up to full potential, especially with academic work and may be viewed as dull by the parents and/or teachers which can ultimately lead to loss of confidence, motivation and frustration.”
According to him, there’s still poor awareness of the need for regular eye checks, as well as poor access to eye care facilities for women.
Echendu said the association believes that visual rehabilitation can go a long way in helping the visually impaired adjust efficiently in performing activities of daily living, and also contribute to production activities, thus improving their quality of life as well as that of their families.
He also commended the ministry for the ongoing projects of setting up Braille Press Centres in six major states in the country, as well as the permanent site of the Nigerian farm Craft Centre for the Blind in Lagos.
The highlight of the visit was the conferment of award on the minister, Sen Alhassan as the first Eye Care Ambassador in Nigeria by the NOA.
Responding, she expressed delight over the award and promised to use her good offices in projecting awareness on visual impairment among women, children and persons with disabilities in the country.
She expressed dismay over the number of women and children affected by visual impairment globally, including Nigeria.
The minister of Women Affairs and Social Development urged the Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) to draw up a memorandum of understanding to guide in the implementation of the partnership.