Dr. Valentina Ideh, an Ophthalmologist has raised the alarm that about 40 million Nigerians are at risk of contracting river blindness (Onchocerca volvulus) in the country. Dr Ideh, who lectures at the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, stated this in Benin during the 20th Faculty Lecture with the theme: Vision 2020 in Nigeria: Myth or Reality.
“Onchocerciasis is perhaps, the most researched filarial infection in Nigeria. The provisional estimates had suggested that 7-10 million Nigerians are infected with Onchocerca volvulus, approximately 40 million are at risk of the disease”, she said.
Dr Ideh said according to the Global Burden of Disease Study estimate in 2017, there were 20.9 million prevalent Onchocerciasis volvulus infections worldwide, adding that 14.6 million of the infected people had skin disease while 1.15 million had vision loss.
She explained that the disease is a severe public health problem responsible for blindness and visual impairment, debilitating skin disease and relentless itching in millions of people.
She identified Glaucoma and cataract as other leading causes of blindness in the world, calling for adequate funding of the health sector.
However, she called on the federal government to upgrade its ophthalmology department in all Teaching Hospitals and integrate the Primary Eye Care (PEC) into Primary Health Care (PHC) initiative across the 36 states of the federation.
In another but similar news the Nigerian Health Blog published some weeks back that over 30,000 children between the age of 0-14 years in primary and junior secondary schools are suffering from various eye diseases in Jigawa state.
An Ophthalmologist and head of eye clinic at Rasheed Shekoni Specialist hospital in Dutse, Dr Abdullahi Idris disclosed this during a round table meeting between the Ministry of Health official, media and the team from the Health and Development Support Programme said out of the over six million people in Jigawa state about 2.4 million are children and estimated that about 30,000 children or has one eye disease or another.