Jigi Bola 2.0: Five Million Indigent Nigerians With Eye Defects to Get Free Glasses – FG

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By Stephen Adeleye

No fewer than 5 million poor Nigerians living with preventable eye defects will get free eye glasses under the implementation of the Effective Spectacle Coverage Initiative Nigeria (ESCIN) Jigi Bola 2.0.

The ESCIN is an initiative of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as a road map to enable poor Nigerians accessed treatment of basic eye issues and delivery of spectacles.

The targeted beneficiaries include the elderly and Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs) as well as other vulnerable citizens with refractive errors across the country.

These interventions are being coordinated through the National Eye Health Programme (NEHP) of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (FMOH) in collaboration with Kogi State Government, Sightsavers as well as other donor partners.

Speaking at the Flag off ceremony in Okene, the Kogi State Governor, Alh. Ahmed Ododo, commended President Tinubu for introducing Nigeria’s Road Map for Effective Refractive Error Coverage.

“Mr President has again demonstrated his total commitment to the health and welfare of Nigerians through the Renewed Hope Agenda focusing generally on delivering the good dividends of democracy to the people.

“We cannot thank Mr President enough for extending yet another health gesture to people with presbyopic eye changes and especially considering those aged 40yrs and above across Nigeria.

“Many of us in the room heard or listened to Mr President tell the eye health story of his mum a few weeks ago.

“That story was the motivation for Jigibola 1.0 then, it is the call to action to Learning Earning Thriving Nigeria See, JigiBola 2.0 (let Nigeria See), in 2023 and the FMOH & SW with its partners are heeding the call.

“Mr President used his personal experience to impact the lives of millions in Lagos by catalysing the strengthening of eye care services.

“Mr President is ready to touch the lives of millions yet again on a national scale,” Ododo said.

Ododo, who was represented by the state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr Abdulazeez Adams Adeiza, said efforts to improve eye health were focusing on increasing access to quality and comprehensive eye care services.

“In Kogi State, the overall prevalence of blindness was 3.5%, which was similar to the 3.7% observed in the 2005-2007 Nigeria National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey.

“Today, best estimates suggest 24 million Nigerians are living with treatable sight loss. The leading two causes are untreated cataract and uncorrected refractive errors.

“This initiative will build the foundations to deliver change across the life course,” Ododo said.

Earlier, Dr Oteri Okolo, the National Coordinator, National Eye Health Programme (NEHP), FMOH, said ESCIN Jigi Bola 2.0, was put together to commemorate the maiden “World Assistive Technology Day”.

She said noted that it was an initiative of President Bola Tinubu’ because he recognized the important role of vision in the well-being of every Nigerian as well as the social and economic development of the nation.

Okolo stressed that the President had made eye health a priority as one of the deliverables of the Renewed Hope agenda, saying the initiative was targeted towards poor people particularly at the grassroots.

According to Okolo, one of the objectives of the JIGI Bola 2.0 initiative is to ensure that citizens with preventable eye defects as well as the elderly can have the vision to engage in their day to day activities without hindrance.

“Mr President want to improve the productive capacity of Nigerians at all levels especially at the grassroots, and to add to the gross domestic growth of Nigeria.

“We are here in Kogi State to start the implementation from community level.

“The glasses will be given to every beneficiary free of charge which had already been taken care of by Mr President through the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with Kogi Government and in partnership with local and foreign partners such as Sightsavers and others.

“At least at the initial stage , we are targeting 5 million Nigerians to benefit from the free spectacles, as well as other vision screening and treatment for many Nigerians free of charge,” Okolo said.

She urged the beneficiaries to see the pair of glasses as a gift from President Bola Tinubu as a way of improving their well being and productivity.

Also speaking, Dr Joshua Ibenu, Programme Officer for Eye Health, Sightsavers, Kogi State, noted that Sightsavers had been a consistent partner in effective eye health services in Kogi and in Nigeria at large for about 25 years.

Ibenu spoke on behalf of the Eye Health Senior Programme Manager, Dr Selben Penzin; and the Country Director of Sightsavers, Dr Joy Shaibu.

He noted that the Sightsavers had partnered with Jigi Bola 1.0 on effective spectacle coverage initiative in 2023. Initiated by President Tinubu.

“The President has made effective commitment to ensure that nobody is blind from refractive errors through the Jigi Bola 2.0, and Sightsavers is here again to support the initiative.

“Our goal in Sightsavers is to always be there to prevent avoidable blindness, fight disease and ensure equality for everyone,” Ibenu said.

He encouraged the women and people leaving with disabilities (PWDs) to take advantage of the free cataract surgeries being carried out at Zonal hospital in Kabba and Ankpa.

According to him, the free cataract surgeries for women and the PWDs, had started in January and will be terminated by the end June 2024.

On his part, the Executive Director, Kogi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (KSPHCDA), Dr Abubakar Yakubu, noted that the agency had trained 300 health personnel in four local government areas of Kogi to provide basic eye screening and care.

The highlight of the occasion was the flag off of the initiative by the representative of the Governor, Dr Abdulazeez, with presentation of eye glasses to beneficiaries.


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