Guinness Nigeria in collaboration with Sightsavers is actively driving the prevention of avoidable blindness caused by cataract. The project, which commenced in November 2018, has recorded 207 beneficiaries of free surgery programmes in Sokoto State.
Sightsavers is a leading organisation working to eliminate avoidable blindness by supporting cataract surgeries in women and girls in Sokoto and Kebbi states with funding from Guinness Nigeria Plc covering a period of 12 months. The project is building on the gains of the Coordinated Approach to Eye Health (CATCH) implemented in both states to increase access to eye services.
Speaking on Guinness Nigeria’s contribution, the CEO, Baker Magunda said the company was determined, in alignment with the United Nations’ Vision 2020, to turn the tide of preventable blindness in Africa.
“Good health and wellbeing is Goal 3 of the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; and good sight is very essential to good health and well-being of every human. Therefore, we are aware of the challenges caused when one loses his or her sight. In some instances, it may be life threatening because most of these victims experience a sense of loss, dejection and some even contemplate suicide.
“Unfortunately, reports showed that the world still has about 285 million visually impaired or blind persons and 80% of these cases could have been prevented. We are very touched by the stories of some of these individuals, hence our commitment to this project because we believe everyone has the right to sight,” Magunda said
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cataract is responsible for 51% of world blindness, which represents about 20 million people. Although cataracts can be surgically removed, in many countries barriers exist that prevent patients to access surgery. Cataract remains the leading cause of blindness. As people in the world live longer, the number of people with cataract is anticipated to grow. Cataract is also an important cause of low vision in both developed and developing countries.
“That possible unsavoury growth in the number of people that may likely come down with cataract and eventually go blind is what we seek to mitigate with our intervention with Sightsavers. Unfortunately, epidemiological studies have shown that women and girls are commonly affected because they have relatively low access to eye care services. That explains our concentration on women and girls for now.