Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has flagged off free cataract surgery for 405 residents restating his commitment to quality healthcare delivery.
Fayemi noted that his administration was partnering with the Federal Government and the Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria under the Ekiti Free Cataract Surgery/President Buhari Restores Vision Programme to restore the sight of the patients.
The surgery is currently going on simultaneously at Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH), Ado-Ekiti; State Specialist Hospital, Ikere-Ekiti and Federal Teaching Hospital, Ido-Ekiti.
Governor Fayemi, who was represented by his deputy, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, at the flag off held at EKSUTH, Ado-Ekiti, said the gesture was aimed at addressing the burden of increasing blindness from cataract and assist residents who are financially handicapped to sponsor their treatment.
He explained that an average of 250 surgeries was to be carried out per state but that of Ekiti was increased to 405 to give more cataract patients in the state opportunity to benefit from the scheme.
The governor noted that Ado, Ikere and Ido were carefully chosen as centres cutting across the three senatorial districts to make the scheme accessible to people in the grassroots.
Fayemi disclosed that 200 of the cases were screened during the first phase of his administration’s Free Health Mission which provided medical services to 67,000 people across the eleven local government areas visited.
Describing cataract as a leading cause of blindness, Fayemi disclosed that 4.25 million Nigerian adults aged above 40 are visually impaired while 5.5 per cent of adults aged 50 and above are estimated to be blind.
He explained that government was tackling cataract headlong by offering to sponsor the surgery and helped the patients overcome financial constraints to restore their vision.
Fayemi said: “As a government that is concerned about the well-being of its people, we promised that no one will be left out.
“Here we are today practising what we preached by granting free access to the healthcare many people may not be able to afford personally. We are doing this judiciously without age, gender, religion or political colouration.”
Earlier in her address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Folake Olomojobi, explained that the free cataract surgery programme was part of Governor Fayemi’s Free Health Mission aimed at sustaining a healthy state.
She revealed that each cataract surgery costs N50,000 outside post-surgery expenses which have been borne by the state government.
Mrs. Olomojobi disclosed that the surgery was being performed by indigenous cataract surgeons adding that the scheme was geared towards achieving ‘once I was blind and now I can see testimony.’
The president of Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria, Dr. Bade Ogundipe, who was represented by Dr. Kayode Ajite, said the body was working in synergy with state governments in Nigeria to ensure a cataract-free nation.
He commended the Ekiti State government for not only taking the financial burden of the patients but also providing the post-operation drugs for them.