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"National Eye Health Policy: Dr Betta Edu Calls For Universal Eye Care Coverage In Nigeria"

The Federal Government of Nigeria has Launched and Inaugurated the National Eye Health Committee in other to ensure universal eye care services as it works towards achieving Universal Health Coverage. The event was honored with the presence of the Honorable Minister of State for Health Dr. Mamora Olorunimbe Adeleke ably represented by Dr. Obum, the Permanent Secretary of the FMOH Mr. Mahmuda Mamman the Perm Secretary, the Chairman of the Nigeria Commissioners for Health Forum Dr. Betta Edu, the Country Director of Sightsavers Dr. Sunday Isiyaku and a host of other dignitaries and partners.

Speaking on behalf of all the Commissioners for Health in the 36 States of the Federation and FCT, the Chairman of the forum Dr. Betta Edu expressed her delight to be a part of the long-awaited launching and inauguration of the National Eye Health Policy in Nigeria that will bring a huge relief to people having Eye challenges.

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"Blindness like we all know is very devastating and has led to a high level of poverty, stigmatization and loss of major opportunities “Sadly in Nigeria, 78 persons out of every 10,000 are actually blind and many more going through several other eye challenges, unfortunately in this situation which we are faced with, we have been unable to provide a Universal Health Coverage for people who needs this care. Take for instance, in CRS where am privileged to be the Commissioner for Health, we have been partnering with Tulsi Chanrai Eye Foundation and FCMB for over 20yrs now and they have done over 40,000 eye surgeries at a subsidized rate with the private sector playing a huge role. We have a large crowd in our General Hospitals with people coming all the way from the Eastern and Southern parts of the Country to access care due to the subsided services by Tulsi Chanrai, FCMB and the State Government."

Dr. Edu stated that the policy will direct the Country on a part to achieving Universal Eye Care Coverage which is what those suffering from different forms of eye challenges needs. Dr Edu reinstated her commitment and that of the entire Health Commissioners in the Country to work in synergy with the Federal Government to fully implement the policy at the state level.

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She called on partners and the private sector to come into the space and support the Government, NPHCDA and NHIS should be fully involved to ensure this gets to the primary health care level.

The Chairman of the Commissioners for Health Forum ended by stating the importance of stepping down this policy to the local government level of Primary Health Cares taking Cross River State as a case study where support from Brien Holden has actually moved eye care services to the Primary level (CHC Ikom) with the first phase of training already completed in 2 LGAs of the State with huge success recorded so far.

"I believe as we set up the committee today it's not going to be about the FCT alone but critical for every stakeholder to ensure that people in their villages get access to eye care services rather than resorting to using water, urine and even kerosene to wash their eyes as rural dwellers search for solutions. I, therefore, wish to thank the Federal Government of Nigeria for the bold step, the FMOH and of course, the Minister, partners and major stakeholders for the support as I call on us all to push this policy down to our various States and support the policy by ensuring its full implementation." She added.

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