ALBINISM AND LOW VISION, CHALLENGE OF THE TIME
Due to the neglect of one of the most essential organ of the body, the EYE, the resultant effect robs off on the wellbeing of individual and society.
According to Dr. Anne Ebri, Sub-regional Manager, Brien Holden Vision Institute, “Studies have found out that 99% of persons living with albinism have low vision.
“Any child who performs poorly in school demands that his/her eye should be screened because 80% of learning is through vision.”
Also, Mr Jake Egbele living with albinism and CEO, Albino Foundation tells his story.
“I was a student of Regina Ceoli College, Calabar and an Albino. The Principal then, an indigene of Etinan, called for Assembly and with a wave of hand all the students moved to one side and I did not see and was still standing, now alone. The Principal thought I was being disobedient and lashed my back with a big cane. Blood was all over the place. I pleaded that I did not see but he retorted ‘You blind boy! If you want to die, die!'”
Egbele continued, “Lead every child with albinism. Put that child in front. Allow that child to go to the blackboard. That child will squint but let him see what he needs to see. Teachers should go a step further by photocopying the notes they have and give to that child to recopy. Students should not make jest of fellow students with albinism.
“I once dropped out of school because I could not cope not being able to see the blackboard and everyday I wake up with determination that no Jake, no Stella, no Edidiong will ever dropped out of school because the person has albinism.
“Before a child goes to school, let the eye of the child be tested because the performance of that child in school is tied down to his/her eye health. When a problem is detected early, the solution can be gotten.
Recently, addressing the crowd during the 2019 World Sight Day tagged ‘Vision First’ organised by Seeing is Believing ‘SIB’ Comprehensive Child Eye Health Project in Akwa Ibom State, Egbele urged the Akwa Ibom Government to partner with Albino Foundation and Brien Holden Vision Institute to ensure eye health of an Akwa Ibom person is preserved.
‘SIB’, a Ministry of Health Programme and the organiser of 2019 World Vision Day celebration in Akwa Ibom State with the support of Brien Holden Vision Institute is on mission to ensure Akwa Ibom public are enlightened to access the eye health care.
The Desk Officer of ‘SIB’ in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Eyitu Isong thanked Brien Holden Vision Institute for the no counterpart support given to Akwa Ibom Government to give free eye-test and glasses to its citizenry.
She thanked the Health Commissioner, Dr. Dominic Ukpong for the assistance to ensure the project comes to fruition.
According to Brien Holden Vision Institute, Sub Regional Manager, Dr. Anne Ebri, over 5000 free spectacles have been given to both Akwa Ibom and Cross River children with vision impairment. Also, over 20,000 children have accessed free medication for one eye reason to the other.
Since 2017 when Brien Holden Vision Institute commenced its Child Eye Care Project in Cross River and Akwa Ibom State, it was disclosed that over 250,000 children have had their eyes screened.
Meanwhile, Health Workers in the 231 Primary Health Centres across the State have been trained to provide first hand eye assessment of children passing through health centres; even school teachers have been trained to handle same in schools.
Within the period of two years, the Ministry of Health in partnership with Brien Holden Vision Institute have established four child-friendly-eye service centers which are patterned to give quality eye care to children.
These centres are in University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, General Hospital-Ikot Ekpene, General Hospital-Eket and General Hospital-Oron.
It behooves on the State Government through its designated Ministry to ensure as Brien Holden Vision Institute folds up its project in the State on January 2020, eye health care of its citizenry should be prioritized and health partnership required to maintain and improved upon the advocacy for posterity.