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Group calls for engagement of eye physicians in healthcare centres



THE Nigeria Optometrists Association (NOA) Anambra Chapter has called on state government to engage the services of Optometrists at Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCSs) across the rural areas to protect unsuspecting eye patients from quacks.

Speaking to newsmen during a post-event interview at Nkpor recently, Anambra chapter chairman, Chigozie Umeh made the call while explaining the essence of world optometry day, week and services of Optometrists.

Umeh said that world Optometry day,  was set aside to educate the public on where they should go when they have issues with their eyes as primary eye healthcare practitioners.

“The world Optometry week is used to educate people on what optometry is and what optometrists can do. An optometrist clinic is the first port of call when someone has eye problem.

“Optometry is a healthcare profession while optometrists are professionals that provide diagnoses, management and treatment services for disorders of the eye, and visual system. They counsel and prescribe optical aids and other therapies for visual disturbances.”

Dr. Umeh lamented on the damage perpetrated by quacks especially at the rural areas due to people not being able to access professional eye doctors or having the mentality that visiting eye clinic was expensive.

He pleaded with the state government to employ and engage optometrists at the PHCs in the rural area so that patients could easily access eye care services at a subsidiary rate.

“Oftentimes you discover that patients patronize quacks. Some people think that visiting a clinic is very expensive and come only when the problem has deteriorated. Those at the villages complain of distance”

“Optometrist are supposed to be accessed in different villages at the PHCs. The transport fare they should have used to travel to cities for eye care could be used to pay bills at the PHCs”, said Umeh.

Moreover, he called on community stakeholders to help protect their citizens from quacks by probing any person who came to offer so-called free eye treatments in their communities.

“When someone comes, making a public announcement to offer eye treatment, ask the person what chapter is he from? What is his registered board number? What are you, an Ophthalmologist, Optometrist or what?,” Umeh said.

He narrated a case of a quack who went to Atani, Ogbaru Local Government, obtained permission from the traditional ruler and was already administering drugs on the people before it was discovered that he was a quack.

However, Dr. Umeh called on students who are science inclined to choose optometry which was a new course of study in Nigerian Universities as a discipline, saying that there were only about 4000 registered optometrists in Nigeria.

“We want youths to seek admission to study optometry. The number of optometrists we have now cannot go round the rural areas in Nigeria”

“Anambra State of about 4 Million people has about 85 registered optometrists both private and government employed practitioners while in the whole of Nigeria of approximately 185 million people, we have about 4000 registered optometrist. It is a lucrative profession”, Umeh quipped.

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