Challenges to the Elimination of Cataract Blindness in Nigeria as Targeted by ‘VISION 2020’
Background: VISION 2020 - The Right to Sight, is an initiative of World Health Organization in partnership with International Association for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), articulated in 1999, and passed as a resolution in 2003 to eliminate the nine causes of avoidable blindness throughout the world by year 2020.
Objectives: To determine to what degree relevant manpower, infrastructure and modern technology is available for accomplishment of VISION 2020 goals as regards cataract blindness in Nigeria; the status of prevention of blindness activities in Nigeria as regards this, and challenges, if any, to the realization of the aim of this program.
Methodology: Questionnaire survey of ophthalmologists in Nigeria.
Results: There are enough ophthalmologists to achieve goals, but non-ophthalmic manpower for primary health centers is lacking. Equipments for modern cataract surgery is lacking as only 45.2% of practitioners have them for practice in their institutions. Institutional cataract surgery output is low; averaging 50-92 a year, per ophthalmologist. Community ophthalmology outreach is mainly NGO-driven, with minimal governmental and community sponsorships. The major challenges to achieving VISION 2020 include deficient government policy and funding (65.8%) and insufficient awareness of eye care measures by Nigerians (49.3%).
Conclusion: Tremendous challenges to the realization of VISION 2020 as regards cataract blindness exist in Nigeria. A strong political will and action by government are needed to overcome these challenges.
Keywords: Infrastructure, manpower, output, outreach