American academy fellow urges FG to fund eye healthcare


A fellow of American Academy of Optometry, Dr Demian Echendu of State House Clinic, Abuja, has called on the Federal Government to improve funding for eye healthcare in the country.

Echendu told the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Abuja that good eye care remained the key to the economy and well being of the country.

Echendu, who is the past President of Nigerian Optometry Association (NOA), said it was regrettable that eye health might not be a priority area of the government.

“But I believe that in what we are doing, the government will also find a way to support eye health.

“This is because a population that has challenges with vision should be ready to face increase in poverty, morbidity, mortality and some societal challenges.

“I would like to encourage government to pay much attention on that by devoting more funds to eye care, because eye/vision is very key to the economy development and well being of a nation,” he said.

On the recent inauguration of the Nigerian Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), Echendu explained that he and some of his colleagues were fellows of the academy and having the Nigerian Chapter was a welcome development.

He emphasised the need to unite as a group of professionals to gain access to information, support and create positive impacts in the society.

“So, partnering with AAO is a way of getting support from them as a means of addressing challenges we have in the country in respect to eye care.

“For instance, as a chapter of AAO, we should be able to partner with them in the area of research, bringing information that is required in our educational system to improve the standard of education provided to our younger ones.

“Partnering with them will also help us have access to information that will help us address some of the cases that we encounter in the clinics.

“This is because, you find out that most developed countries are up-to-date in research, and without research, there is no way you will be able to address health challenges that we are encountering these days.

“Also, this advancement will help in addressing some of those conditions and blindness that one cannot easily dictate that could easily lead to loss of sight.

“We know that vision is very important in life. It contributes to more than 80 per cent of what a child learns; it also contributes to more than 70 per cent of what we do in life,” Echendu said.

He further explained that once the vision or eyes of an individual were impaired, it could lead to morbidity, poverty and high level pf mortality.

Echendu, however, stressed that by having access to good and up-to-date information and participating in research and networking, it would help build  a data bank through which some of the challenges could be addressed.

According to him, one of the challenges in eye care in Nigeria is the difficulty in engaging in research and life long learning.

“For instance, before now we use to think that Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness; also before now, we thought that it was increased pressure on the eye that lead to Glaucoma.

“But now, there are researches that show that there are other factors aside pressure on the eye that causes Glaucoma.

“Without partnering countries or organisations that are up-to-date in research, we will not be able to tap that knowledge or technology that will help us address the pending conditions that affect vision, like Glaucoma.

“So, the inauguration of AAO, Nigerian Chapter, led by the President, Dr Nkem Okorafor, is a way to bring us together so that we can partner and do more for younger ones that are coming up.

“Also for those that are already in the system, to develop their skills and for us as fellows, we strive to stay on top of our career.

“We do this in order to address some of the challenges in respect of art and science vision care,” she said.

Echendu, who is also a fellow of AAO, emphasised that majority of the challenges optometrists face was in the rural and urban areas, adding that the Nigerian chapter was aware and working to bridge the gap via collaboration and networking.

“By gathering data, it will also help us know the challenges, and where there is lack of necessary information, we should be able to get back to the communities in form of awareness creation, either via media, groups or other means.”

NAN reports that the newly-inaugurated Nigerian chapter, has Okorafor as the President, Dr Nkiruka Nwachukwu as Vice President, Dr Ejitu Isong as Secretary and Dr Chinenye Nwaneri as the Treasurer (NAN)


April 29, 2024

Tags: American Academy Eye Health care


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