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Setting up a child eye care centre: the Mercy Eye Hospital, Abak experience; a pilot project
Aim: To document and share our experience in setting up a Child Eye Care Centre within a rural mission eye hospital and document subsequent development of services.
Method: The location of the project was Mercy Eye Hospital (MEH) Abak, Akwa Ibom State in the South South zone of Nigeria). Consent to commence the Child Eye Care Centre was obtained from the base hospital proprietor of MEH as well as the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital management. Services were subsidized or free. Appraisal of the project was done, for the period January to December 2003.
Results: A total of 520 children were seen. Eighty per cent of children came from the South-South zone. The age group 0-5 years made up 42% of attendees, while 74% of all the attendees were males. The major causes of bilateral surgical ocular morbidity included cataract 24 (4.6 %), glaucoma 6 (1.2 %) and retinoblastoma 4 (0.7%).Causes of non-surgical ocular morbidity were refractive errors 32 (6.2 %) and vernal conjunctivitis 12 (2.3 %). Penetrating ocular trauma, 12 (2.3 %), was the main cause of uniocular pathology. Operations performed were cataract extraction, trabeculectomy, corneal/corneoscleral repairs, and enucleation. Glasses were dispensed to those in need and a short course in child eye health was held for capacity building.
Conclusion: This report shows the need for specialized child eye care services in the South-South zone of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. There is a great potential for further development of the centre.
Keywords: Child eye care centre, Requirements, Challenges
PHMJ Vol. 2 (2) 2008: pp. 118-125