The Nigeria Optometric Association (NOA) has said that millions of Nigerians could be at risk due to inability to access quality eye care service as a result of inadequate manpower and facilities. Nigeria currently has only 4,000 Optometrists to cater for the eye care need of about 200 million people. The association said that poor Nigerians, especially those in the rural areas are the worst hit as 80 per cent of optometrists in the country are into private practice.
NOA however blamed the situation on government, saying many optometry graduates don’t find a place for their housemanship or employment in government health facilities.
This, the association said has also resulted in brain drain as many have been forced to travel out of the country for greener pasture.
Addressing journalist in Abuja, as part of ongoing activities for the celebration of NOA @ 50 and the 42nd Annual General Meeting of the association, the President, Damian Echendu, therefore called on government to provide more facilities and encourage employment of more Optometrists.
He advocated for at least one Optometrist in each senatorial district or local government area, so as to meet the needs of those in the rural areas. “We have over 4,000 well-trained members and we are principally devoted to providing eye health and vision care services to the significantly underserved population of Nigerian residents in need of such,” said Echendu, Speaking further, he said, in the course of the golden jubilee celebration, NOA, in addition to other public-targeted activities like the “My Sight My Right” child eye health initiative extending quality eye care services to children between the ages of 5 and 14 across the country, is also unveiling a publication on Optometry in Nigeria.
“We recently worked with the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to conduct and report on a nationwide drivers’ vision survey, producing valuable research information that can be used in generating a policy document on driving and vision in Nigeria.”
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