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Lagos To Convert General Hospital To Specialist Eye Hospital

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The Lagos State, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has announced plans to designate one of the state’s general hospitals as a specialised centre for ophthalmic services.

This initiative was unveiled during the 4th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Africa Retina Society held in Lagos.

Addressing stakeholders at the conference themed “Upscaling Retinal Services in a Resource-Constrained Economy,” Abayomi emphasized the importance of providing world-class diagnostic, medical, surgical, and ophthalmic services within Lagos and Nigeria at large.

“We are committed to prioritising eye health in Lagos State, which includes developing screening capacity across all primary healthcare facilities to detect eye diseases early,” Prof. Abayomi stated.

Highlighting the intersection between community health and eye conditions, Abayomi noted, “The conditions that affect the eyes very much reflect the conditions of the community in which you live. We have hypertension, diabetes, sickle cell, and trauma, which are prevalent in Lagos and Nigeria.”

Furthermore, the commissioner outlined strategies to integrate eye screening into school health programs, beginning with training teachers to identify students with vision challenges. He also emphasized leveraging social health insurance for screening, detection, and treatment of eye diseases as part of routine health facility visits.

In collaboration with the Chagoury Group, the Lagos State Ministry of Health is also working towards establishing a specialist eye hospital to expand access to comprehensive eye care services across the state.

Commenting on the global perspective of eye care, Prof. Linda Visser from Stellenbosch University, South Africa, stressed the need for policy integration of eye screening into diabetes care at the primary healthcare level.

She said, “Early detection of diabetic retinopathy can prevent up to 95% of vision impairment and blindness.

“The high prevalence of type 2 diabetes continues to rise worldwide and is particularly rapid in low- and middle-income countries.

“Most of these countries have limited availability and affordability of healthcare services for screening and treating diabetes-related complications, such as retinopathy, to prevent vision loss.”

Dr. Asiwome Seneadza, Chairman of the Africa Retina Society, echoed the importance of regular retinal screening and improved diabetes care accessibility across the continent.

He underscored the conference’s role in addressing complexities in delivering advanced retinal care in low to medium income countries.

“That’s why we are advocating for improved diabetes care and regular retinal screening made available and accessible for every individual living with diabetes,” he said.

Meanwhile, Prof. Bassey Fiebai, Chairman of the Vitreo Retinal Society of Nigeria, highlighted challenges in retina care due to limited specialist numbers relative to Nigeria’s population.

“With just over 100 retina specialists in the country serving a population of 230 million, the need for increased funding, personnel training, and equipment provision is critical.

“So we’re looking at a situation in which one retina specialist is supposed to cater for 2.3 million people. How does anyone cope?” Fiebai stressed.

The 4th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Africa Retina Society drew participants from various African nations to discuss strategies for enhancing retinal care amidst healthcare resource constraints.

The event, which commenced on June 26 and concluded on June 28, aimed to improve outcomes and reduce visual impairment from retina-related disorders across Africa.

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