By Salihu A. Modibbo
Dupe Ademola Popoola, an Ophthalmologist with the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) said as parts of efforts to prevent and curtail blindness among children in Kwara State, 2500 children have been examined. Popoola made this known on Wednesday in Ilorin, during a visit of Kwara first lady and medical personnel to the Children Hospital at Centre Igboro in Ilorin. According to her, the state government has enacted law that makes vision screening compulsory for children from zero to five years. Adding that because of the effort of the state government, a foundation; the USAID has shown interest in the project where they donated some equipment worth thousands of dollars. Popoola said: “2500 children had so far been examined and some referral has been made to General Hospital in the state. However, four children were diagnosed with blindness due to premature birth.” The Ophtalmologist pointed out that a survey of 100 blind people carried out in the state suggested that, seven out of 10 were blind from childhood, while being hidden in that condition, till they are old enough to come out to beg for a living. “Some years back, Nigeria rose to the challenge of fighting deficiency in Vit. A and measles among children and they were successful. “Four health facilities have been designated as centres for the vision screening of children, these centres would also act as training of staffs and centres for prevention of blindness and enhancement of sight.” she explained. Popoola also said that the programme will capture older children to be examined. In her address, Omolewa Ahmed, the wife of Kwara State Governor has advocated enactment of Law that will enforce all mothers to take their children to hospital for vision screening before enrollment in government schools. The Governor’s wife who is Founder of Life Empowers Anchors Hope (LEAH) encouraged mothers to take their children to immunization centres and as well undergo vision screening as it is free of charge. Ahmed, who said the visit was embarked upon to influence immunization on children and vision screening, stated that all ministries in the state would be made to key into the programme for Kwara children to ensure preventable blindness. “Vision is important and we must ensure that out of negligence or ignorance our children are not exposed to blindness when we can take them for screening and get help,” she said. She noted that some of these cases of blindness are avoidable, saying a child that is blind in young age will not have a qualitative life. Ahmed also revealed that recently over 200 blind citizens were empowered and N150,000 cheque was given to them each to help them in their trade. The Governor’s wife was shown the newly acquired vision screening equipment and how it operates.
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