Not less than 10,000 people benefited from the recent free eye care programme organized at Umuahia by MTN Foundation in collaboration with Abia State Government and Eye Foundation Hospital Lagos, according to officials.
Out of this number, 2,010 people had free Cataract surgical operation with drugs, 2,000 patients received free eye glasses while others were treated for various eye diseases including glaucoma and were given medications accordingly.
Speaking to journalists at the end of the programme, a member of the medical team Dr. Okechukwu Ogar explained that the programme which lasted for three weeks was a tripartite arrangement between MTN, Abia State Government and Eye Foundation Hospital Lagos.
Ogar said that it was part of the state government’s effort to address the healthcare challenges of the people, through collaborating with other relevant groups to bring eye health treatment closer to thepeople of the state.
He said that a community eye programme had also been launched by the state government to reach more rural dwellers in order to consolidation what had been achieved in the free eye treatment exercise.
Ogar, a former health commissioner in Abia State noted that eye specialists would be deployed to the three senatorial districts of the state to continue from where the current exercise had stopped to reach out to those in the rural areas.
He however blamed many health challenges in the state on ignorance and poverty and advised residents of the state to always seek proper medical attention and avoid the patronage of unqualified health personnel.
Ogar said the upgrading of healthcare facilities as well as construction of new ones especially in rural areas had commence and expressed gratitude to the Governor Theodore Orji for his in interest in the health of the masses which had led to huge achievements in the sector.
He said, “It was the massive support of the governor in the health care sector that made Abia State to be selected by MTN Foundation for the free eye care programme scheduled for each of the six geo-political zones of the country”.
Dr. Anya Kalu said a schedule had been drawn for the continued care of those who benefited from the programme to enable them to recover fully and urged them to avail themselves of the opportunity provided by the state government.
In his remark, Dr. Akinwale Akinfe of the Eye Foundation Hospital Lagos, said that Cataract was now a leading cause of blindness globally which was a major public health problem they noticed during the exercise.
Dr Akinfe noted that the free eye care programme was a deliberate effort to restore vision and save people from avoidable loss of sight, stressing that losing of one’s sight is a great disadvantage to such people.
He said that over 30 health personnel including doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals from the state and the collaborating partners contributed to the success of the exercise.