President Bola Tinubu has declared support for the provision of five million eyeglasses for Nigerians with sight impairment.
He said this on Friday in Abuja when he received the founder of Peek Vision Foundation and Co-Founder of the Vision Catalyst Fund, Prof. Andrew Bastawrous.
The News Agency of Nigerian (NAN) reports that the initiative would be between the Peek Vision and the Federal Ministry of Health’s National Eye Health Programme (NEHP).
He highlighted the pressing need for improved eye health services in Nigeria and expressed concern about the more than 24 million Nigerians grappling with varying degrees of vision impairments.
“We must act now because sight and vision is critical to economic development and growth,” the President said.
He recalled his “Jigi Bola” programme, which was initiated during his tenure as the governor of Lagos State in 2001, that provided free eye screening and surgery to Lagosians.
The President also recounted that his late mother was instrumental to the priority he accorded eye care provision in Lagos and the country as a whole.
“We eventually impacted the eye health of millions of people in Lagos, and you could see their joy over the immediate sight enhancements when they were given a pair of glasses,” he said.
Expressing his commitment to the cause, Bastawrous said: “Good vision unlocks human potential. It improves earning, learning, and wellness for individuals, communities, and countries.”
He said that eye care remained chronically under-resourced in many countries, adding that the estimates in Nigeria showed that 0.0002 per cent of the health budget was spent on eye health.
“The good news is that Tinubu has an excellent team in the health sector, and some of them have demonstrated tremendous leadership in the sector.
‘’What we will like to offer is to bring our Peek Vision methodology and platform to Nigeria to help unlock resources from multiple sources.
“In the countries where we have worked, Peek in Botswana unlocked 10 million dollars for the school programme, and in Kenya, 17 million Euros.
‘’Through the Vision Catalyst Fund, we have secured a donation of 200 million pairs of glasses, and we would like a significant proportion of that to come to Nigeria,” he said.
At the event, the President was presented with a National Policy Document on Eye Health by the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate, who was assisted by the Coordinator of the NEHP, Dr Oteri Okolo.