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By Chris Nomjov
Telecom giants, MTN has began to offer over 6,000 patients, with varying eye problems, free treatment courtesy of the MTN Foundation Eyesight Restoration Intervention Scheme in Ondo State on Monday.
The programme witnessed free surgical operations to remove cataracts, and the distribution of free reading glasses to treat presbyopia.
According to the Director of the Foundation, Mr. Dennis Okoro, about one million Nigerians are estimated to be blind and another 3.1 million are said to be living with one form of visual impairment or the other.
He said, “These individuals conduct their day-to-day activities with significant difficulty, and the overwhelming majority of them do not have access to proper treatment or facilities.”
He also noted that a lot of these cases of visual impairment could be avoided, just as 80 per cent of the world’s blindness was preventable.
“It is for this reason that the MTN Foundation, under its health portfolio, has partnered with Eye Foundation Centre on the prevention of blindness to implement the Eyesight Restoration Intervention Scheme, tagged the MTN EyeRIS, endorsed by the Federal Ministry of Health,” Okoro said.
He added that under the first phase, 33,364 patients in Niger, Sokoto, Jigawa, Abia, Delta and Osun states were treated for cataracts and other eye diseases.
“Increasingly through this intervention, we hope to improve the cataracts surgical rate from 0.1 per cent to 0.7 per cent in the selected states in line with the WHO Vision 2020 Right to Sight initiative,” he said.