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Barriers to utilization of eye care services in rural communities in Edo State, Nigeria

JA Ebeigbe
GO Ovenseri-Ogbomo


Background: Visual impairment and blindness due to ocular diseases are significant public health problems in developing countries, including Nigeria. Evidence suggests that poor uptake of available eye care services by potential beneficiaries is a major barrier to attaining universal access to eye care services. Objectives: To determine the factors that prevents utilization of eye care services in rural communities. Methods: This was a cross- sectional community based survey. Three rural communities in three different Local Government Areas- Obe, Evboneka and Orior of Edo State were selected by convenient sampling. One hundred subjects were selected by systematic random sampling from each of the three villages visited. This made a sample size of 300. There were 132 (44%) males and 168 (56%) females. The age range was between 40 to 75 years, with a mean age of 55.2 ± 2.1 years. Results: The barriers identified were felt need for eye care services (33.3%), cost of treatment (26.7%), the need for escort (8.3%). and social engagement/belief (8.3%). Sixty-eight per cent of the sample population had never had their eyes examined in a hospital before. Of the thirty-two per cent of those who had gone to the hospital for eye care services, 21% were females. This resulted in a statistically significant difference in gender utilization of eye care services ( p<0.0001). There was also a significant association between the level of education and health care seeking behaviour of the sample population (p = 0.008). Conclusion: The findings of this study suggest that ignorance, poverty and gender are major barriers to utilization of eye care services by communities. Health promotion programmes need to incorporate community based health education and explore ways of making eye care services affordable in rural areas. Also, enlightenment programmes and workshops targeted at men should be carried out to educate and encourage better eye care seeking behaviour among them. 

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eISSN: 2437-1734
print ISSN: 0189-9422