FG Launches First National Eye Health Policy

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Khadijah sighsavers
Khadijah smiles after her sight-saving operation.

The Federal Government of Nigeria has launched the nation’s first national eye health policy to tackle growing problems of avoidable blindness and vision impairment in the country.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who made this announcement in Abuja, said the policy, set out guidance and commitments needed to reduce the eye health crisis, was created in conjunction with Sightsavers, an international development organisation.

Recall that statistics showed that Nigeria recorded an estimated 24 million cases of vision loss, including 1.3 million who were blind in 2020. This policy, therefore, highlighted the global eye health burden and the World Health Organisation’s World Report on Vision.

The policy document formalises the need to increase eye health funding and recommendations for government, states and sector professionals to improve eye care and ensure no one is left behind when it comes to eye health.

Commenting on this development, Nigeria country director at Sightsavers, Sunday Isiyaku, said: “If we are to tackle the eye health burden in Nigeria, everyone has a part to play to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to the eye care they need – from government and state health officials to eye health professionals and organisations like Sightsavers. This policy will help provide quality eye health services for all Nigerians and reduce the socio-economic impact of vision impairments.”

The new policy is a much-needed investment in eye health, with priority areas [which] include: rolling out the policy to all 36 Nigerian states, creating state eye health coordination teams to lead on implementation, advanced training for eye health professionals, ensuring affordable service is accessible for everyone, collaborating with academic, public-private and health partners to improve awareness, service delivery and reduce financial dependency on development organisations.

A statement by the senior program manager, eye health, Sightsavers, Selben Penzin, said the Ministry of Health speakers explained that preventable eye health conditions could be greatly reduced through public awareness and easy access to services at the event.

It added that a representative for the commissioners of health in Nigeria expressed commitment, on behalf of all states, to develop actions plans to achieve universal health coverage for eye health.

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