President Bola Tinubu has backed a partnership to provide eyeglasses to five million Nigerians in what appears to be a relaunch of ‘Jigi Bola’, a pet project he initiated as a governor in Lagos State.
The Jigi Bola eye programme was a free eye screening and surgical operation for Lagosians, introduced in 2001 to tackle preventable blindness and provide access to eye care for people experiencing poverty.
It was implemented in phases, starting with a pilot phase that involved screening over 100,000 people and providing free eyeglasses to over 20,000 people. The programme was then expanded to cover all 20 local government areas of Lagos State.
Read also Emotional Intelligence and Your Health
In addition to the free eye screening and glasses, the programme offered free eye surgery to those who needed it and provided eye care awareness.
The Jigi Bola eye programme was relaunched in 2021 by Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the re-elected governor of Lagos State.
As the President, Tinubu endorsed a partnership between the Federal Ministry of Health’s National Eye Health Programme and the Peek Vision Foundation to provide more than 5 million pairs of eyeglasses to Nigerians with sight impairments on Friday.
“We must act now because sight and vision are critical to economic development and growth,” the President said, noting that he was concerned that more than 24 million Nigerians are grappling with varying degrees of vision impairments.
“I support this initiative, and I will encourage the mobilization of further commitment to see this through and reach vulnerable people all across our country. Some parents may not pay attention to this, but I will because I am touched,” the President added.
He explained that a personal experience with his mother informed his penchant for the program.
“My first experience was with my mother of blessed memory. She was ill, and she could not recognize me. When I intervened, she was treated and given a pair of glasses. She next asked me: I have you, and you can do this for me. What about those other women and their children who may not have somebody like you to intervene for them?” he said.
“So I promised her that I would pursue the mass provision of eye care vigorously and provide free eye screenings and surgeries to people because of that question my mother asked me and because of her passion for seeing others healed.”
During an event marking the relaunch, Mohammed Ali Pate, the coordinating minister of Health and Social Welfare, presented the first national policy document on eye health to the President.
The policy aims to scale up existing eye healthcare services and develop a sustainable approach for equitable access to quality eye care within the Nigerian health system.
It provides a framework for collective direction to scale up eye care delivery at all healthcare service provision levels. It provides an interface for all stakeholders to harness action for development in eye care.
Part of the goal is to develop a governance framework for best practices and enhance competent leadership in integrated eye healthcare, including optometric, ophthalmic nursing, medical and surgical ophthalmology and all allied healthcare services related to eye health.
The Federal Ministry of Health, through the National Eye Health Programme (NEHP), is to facilitate the nationwide dissemination of the National Eye Health Policy 2019 while states and the FCT are to adopt it.