Half Nigerian children with eye problems die at age 2 – Institute

Fifty (50) per cent of children with eye problems often die before their second birthday in Nigeria, the Brien Holden Vision Institute said on Friday.

Dr Ann Abri, the Sub-Regional Manager of the institute for West Africa, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar.

Abri said that this development occurred because the problems that were related to blindness in children were also related to mortality in the children.

According to her, the institute is aimed at reducing mortality in children, by providing eye care for children between the ages 0 to 14 years in Cross River.

The medical practitioner said that her organisation would establish four child friendly units in Calabar, Ogoja, Ikom and Yakurr, where children could access eye care quickly.

Abri said that the outfit was also providing free surgeries for parents in the institute’s teaching hospital in Calabar.

“In Cross River, we are targeting 250,000 children; to provide medication to as many that require medication, provide 2,500 spectacles, conduct surgeries on no fewer than 360 children.

“Also of interest would be the setting up of well-equipped child friendly units with well-trained workers, especially optometrists to provide specialist care within the clinics and establishing a school for children who are blind so that if all is done and a child’s sight could not be restored, there is a school where the child can acquire education.

“The state government is supporting us by providing a conducive environment in their facilities, and also providing us with their staff who we train to care for the children, and collect data which are sent to us.”

Abri, who doubles as the Project Manager for the Seeing is Believing Comprehensive Child Eye Health Programmme in the state, said they could not take optometrists to the rural areas due to lack of facilities there.

She noted that the comprehensive eye care programme for children began in 2017 in 11 states, and would be rounded off in Dec. 2019.

Dr Theresa Ekpenyong, one of the optometrists trained for the programme, described it as enlightening, having learned new ways of examining children.

According to her, parents and children are usually very grateful especially those who underwent surgeries and had their sight restored.

She, however, noted that as nice as the programme was, lack of maintenance could be its problem as there was lack of maintenance culture. (NAN)