…Laments rising cases of eye defects
By Michael Eboh and Fortune Eromosele
A medical foundation and eye hospital in Nigeria, the Tulsi Chanrai Foundation (TCF), yesterday, raised the alarm over the rising incidences of glaucoma and other eye diseases in the country, stating that Nigeria accounts for 50 per cent of Glaucoma cases in Africa.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, the foundation also stated that Nigeria holds the record for the largest number of patients with eye cases in Africa.
Emphasizing the need for glaucoma care pathways for early detection and treatment to prevent blindness, spokesperson for the TCF, Dr. Deepak Kumar said it was estimated that 1.1 to 1.4 million adults in Nigeria have glaucoma, most of whom are not aware that they have the disease.
He noted that the high prevalence and high rate of blindness confirm glaucoma to be of public health importance and should become a priority among healthcare planners and policy makers.
Kumar maintained that one in every 20 Nigerians aged 40 years and above has glaucoma, and one in five at risk of being blind, while he highlighted the fact that there are approximately 8,500 people aged 40 years and above with glaucoma per million population.
According to him, 50% of glaucoma cases in Africa are from Nigeria and 8% of glaucoma cases was secondary, with over half of these following procedures for cataract, particularly couching, which is still widely practiced in Nigeria despite very poor visual outcomes.
“This underscores the need for high quality, affordable and accessible eye surgical services,” he said.
As parts of effort towards fighting the scourge of blindness, he stated that the foundation which opened its services on 15th January 2019 and was formally inaugurated by His Excellency, President Muhammad Buhari, on 11th July 2019, had conducted over 124,000 free eye surgeries such as glaucoma and cataract.
However, he noted that the foundation had treated 20,000 outpatients and offered up to 70 per cent free eye care services to the poor and less privleged.
Also speaking, Director, Chanrai Group Advisor, TCF, Kannan Narayanan, said in an effort to reduce the rate of blindness and eye problems in Nigeria, TCF had conducted 96 rural eye camps screening, adding that it has screened over 14,000 persons.
He stated that wih the support of its partners, TCF was currently reaching out to more than seven million underprivileged adults and children in Nigeria and also operates in 32 states out of 36, in Nigeria.”
Narayanan explained that about 60 to 70% of its services are provided freely to marginalized communities, while the remaining tariff is at a highly subsidized rate.
He said, “TCF eye hospital aims to be the premier ophthalmic training institute in Nigeria for both clinical and non-clinical personnel to help eye-care in Nigeria evolve as a self-sustaining and thriving model, steered by Nigerian talents.
“In line with its mission and vision programmes, TCF had been operating free eye surgery and eye care programs in various states in collaboration with state governments. Since commencement of this program, TCF has so far performed 124,000 free surgeries for the poor.”