By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoaâ€”The wife of Bayelsa State governor, Mrs. Alanyingi Sylva, has appealed to multinationals, philanthropic organizations and public spirited individuals to join in the crusade against preventable blindness in the state.
Mrs. Sylva made the appeal at this yearâ€™s World Sight Day Celebration at the Gloryland Cultural Centre, Yenagoa.
The governorâ€™s wife, who noted that the state was the first to observe the day, said she would continue to provide adequate health care for women and children which include eye care.
According to Mrs. Sylva, she began to give more attention to the sight of children after experiencing a sudden attitudinal change in some school children which she discovered were as a result of eye defects.
She also recalled a case were an orphan in a care centre had a serious eye problem and was taken abroad for surgery through her NGO, the Centre for Gender Values and Culture (CGVC), saying the lad was currently okay.
Mrs. Sylva also said her NGO has distributed over 800 lenses to public school children, 600 glasses as follow-up at partnering clinics and trained 100 teachers on primary eye care in the state.
Mrs. Sylva advised parents to avoid the temptation of putting all sort of traditional medications into the eyes of their children, but seek medical attention at Community Health Centres.
The governorâ€™s wife commended the Ministry of Gender and Social Development for its support to the programme and a team of doctors who attended to women and children.
In her welcome address, the Commissioner for Gender and Social Development, Ms. Dora Oru, said it was on record that over 300 million people globally live with low vision and blindness with eight percent preventable.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Ekiyo Promise, Mrs. Oru said eight percent of men and women at the age of 50 were vulnerable groups, with women standing higher.
The commissioner said the present administration regarded health as imperative, saying the physical and mental well being of the people was its wealth.
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Azibapu Eruani, called for periodic examination of the eyes and the use of glasses to achieve the objective of vision 2020.
Dr. Eruani, who appealed for all hands to be on deck to check the trend, called on NGOs to give adequate attention to women.
The Director, Medical Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Biribina Samayin, the President of the African Council of Optometry, Dr. Uduak Udom and the Secretary General of Women Optometrist of Nigeria, Dr. N. Aruotu lauded the efforts of Mrs. Sylva in addressing the health challenges of Bayelsans.
The President of the State Association of the Blinds, Mr. Murphy Nammah, advised those irreversibly blind to admit their status and forge ahead with life, noting that blindness was not an end to life.
He appealed to Mrs. Sylva to extend her programme to its members, saying he believed that some members could regain their sight.
Over 2000 women, men and children were screened, offered glasses and drugs.