The Federal Government on Friday called for effective collaboration with Ophthalmologists to curb the rate of emigration of doctors and nurses from the country.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, made the appeal while presenting a paper on “Service delivery in Nigeria’s health sector: The missing links at the on-going Annual General conference of the Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria in Abuja.
The theme of 2018 OSN conference is: “Advancing Eye care beyond 2020″.
Osinbajo, represented by Dr Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of State for Health, decried the rating of Nigeria among developing countries suffering most from skilled medical workforce attrition popularly known as ‘brain drain’, describing the development as unacceptable.
He emphasised that the menace had impacted negatively on health care delivery in the country.
According to him, the subject is addressed at the 57th World Health Assembly with a ‘Code of Practice’ drawn up to regulate the flow of highly skilled personnel from the poorer developing nations to wealthy developed countries.
He, however, emphasised the need for proactive steps to protect and benefit from the services of national investments in human resources for health.
Osinbajo identified ophthalmologists as key in ending the menace.
Speaking on the conference theme, Advancing Eye care beyond 2020″, he said it was a testament to our sight to think beyond Vision 2020 in the strategy for eye care services.
He noted that eye care was particularly a delicate specialty.
Osinbajo said that Nigeria with an estimated population of 198 million has 2.25 million adults aged 40 or more visually impaired or blind, while an estimated 2.7 million of them have moderate visual impairment and 400,000 were severely visual impaired.
He attributed the figure to the National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey conducted between 2005 and 2007.
The vice president noted that as ophthalmic practice witnessed enormous technology-driven advancement, realising Vision 2020 goals should be feasible for us within the stipulated time frame.
He said: “But we are far behind, compared to other countries and whatever is far behind has to run.”
Citing cataract as an example, Osinbajo said “Those effectively amenable to surgical treatment, is still the most common reason for blindness in Nigeria, this prevalence is attributed to low rate of cataract surgeries”.
He said: “The prevailing visual impairment burden from this source is therefore a tremendous challenge to us as a nation and to you as eye professionals.”
The vice president noted that the global target to reduce the prevalence of avoidable blindness by 25 per cent by 2019 from a 2010 baseline was meant to be achieved by improving access to integrated comprehensive eye care services.
Other measures to achieve this target included strengthening partnership and mobilising human resources for eye care.
According to him, looking beyond 2020 will include strategies to strengthen our health system which includes improving and increasing capacity for leadership and governance, improving quality and equity in health workforce distribution at all levels especially for eye health.
He said: “Innovative and sustainable eye healthcare financing, advancing health information management systems for data collection, health planning and research among others.”