The burden of total blindness and vision impairment in Nigeria could witness drastic reduction as Tulsi Chanrai Foundation (TCF) unveiled plans to address the trend in the country.
The foundation, which focuses on the burden of vision, primary healthcare, and water, said it would conduct about 15,000 eye surgeries yearly and provide 60 percent of the services to poor Nigerians.
It is estimated that 1.13 million individuals aged 40 years are currently blind in Nigeria. A further 2.7 million adults aged 40 years are estimated to have a moderate visual impairment and an additional 400,000 adults are severely visually impaired, while 4.25 million adults aged 40 years in Nigeria are visually impaired or blind.
Founder and Trustee of the foundation, Jagdish Chanrai, who disclosed this to journalists as the group commissioned a state of the art eye care facility in Abuja, said without priority attention, number of blinds and severely visually impaired adults in Nigeria could increase by greater than 40 percent over the next decade.
He insisted that there was a need for collaborative efforts against maternal mobility rate, blindness, and general vision impairment as well as the problem of water scarcity in the country.
According to him, the Eye-care center would be commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari, eradicating curable blindness would not only offer a person the gift of sight but restores livelihood thereby immediately and favorably impacting economic output across the nation.
Chanri stated that the hospital would adopt modern techniques to prevent blindness and treat various eye conditions, through hospital-based and outreach activities.
“Around 60 percent of its services will be provided free of charge to benefit the poor and marginalized communities, while the rest will be at highly subsidized rates for those who can afford. The hospital is expected to be self-sustaining in about 4 years’ time,” the foundation said.
Stating that largely a Nigerian team of 30 eye professionals who have recently undergone intensive training in India would manage the facility, he noted that the globally renowned Aravind Eye Care System of India, which is adjudged largest provider of quality eye-care in the world, would manage the facility. He said the group would deepen availability, accessibility and affordable primary health services across rural Nigeria through demonstrated, scalable primary healthcare models.
Also speaking at the event, Dr. Aravind Srinivasan of Aravind Eye Hospital said there was a need to build capacity for doctors and primary health care workers in the country.
Decrying the economic implications of blindness, he noted that the multiplier advantage of restoring vision to individuals would improve the country’s economy and limit dependency rate.
Srinivasan noted that the hospital would initially focus on addressing eye challenges such as cataract, pterygium, glaucoma, and other condition. A pterygium is a growth of the conjunctiva or mucous membrane that covers the white part of your eye over the cornea. The cornea is the clear front covering of the eye. This benign or noncancerous growth is often shaped like a wedge.
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