Incidences of blindness are slowly on the increase in some areas in the north, says Helen Keller International, an organisation whose mission is to prevent blindness and reduce malnutrition.
A representative of the organisation, Dr Ima Chima who made this known during the flag off of Danjuma Atta Eye Foundation at the weekend at Okene General Hospital, said that the problem is compounded by the issues of limited number of trained eye care personnel, poor state of our health system and lack of awareness about eye health among people.
Speaking on the data made available by Nigeria National Blindness and Visual Impairment survey on Kogi, between 2005- 2007, Chima said, " in Okene alone there would be at least 12,010 blind persons, out of 12,010 blind persons 5164 persons would be blind because of cataracts.
Earlier, the founder of the organisation, Danjuma Atta said they have assisted in restoring the sight of over 5,000 indigenes of Kogi state over the past six years.
The foundation has also embarked on establishing an eye care centre at Okene General Hospital, Kogi state.
He promised that in due course, all would be gathered to commission the new eye centre in the hospital.
The Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Alhaji Abubakar Abdulsalam who described the initiative as a laudable one, said the founder of the foundation, Danjuma Atta's intervention is timely as the hospital can now bring more health care services to the population.
He said before now, enough attention has not been given to eye care services as government alone cannot shoulder the burden.
The Ciroma of Ebiraland who is also the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ataba Sanni Omolori, appreciating the effort of Atta said, "for a man who cannot see but now insists that everyone should see deserves commendation. I am particularly moved by this gesture."
A member of the board of the foundation who is also the Chairman/Chief Executive of Gamji Group of companies, Alhaji Sanusi Abubakar, said that people who give back to society should be commended and appreciated.
He said what inspired him to support the foundation, was that he is also into charity works as the founder of ASMA Foundation for orphans and the less privileged.
We have been conducting eye treatment in the last six years and we have conducted surgeries for over 5,000 people in Kogi. We've equally handled refractory issues, lenses and all, including those with terminal issues like glaucoma.
We have to continue to give them drugs, eye drops, at least which can extend their sight. Some were able to live long with it. Just like you have a BP and you take drugs, you're able to manage it and live long," he said.