Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
In a bid to complement the on-going transformation in the Abia health sector, the Nigerian Optometric Association, NOA, has disclosed its readiness to set up a national eye center in Abia State.
The National President of the association, Dr Chimeziri Anderson, who gave the hint during a courtesy visit to Gov. Alex Otti, said the move was to reciprocate the efforts of the Government in rebuilding the health sector.
He said that Abia was chosen along side few other states as the beneficiaries in the first phase of the project.
Dr Anderson commended Otti for allocating 20% of Abia’s 2024 budget to health.
He requested the commencement of internship training for Optometrists in the state Higher institutions, engagement of Optometrists per local government through the Primary Health Development Agency to extend eye care services to rural communities and the review of salaries and allowances of Optometry Doctors in the Abia State civil service among others.
In his response, Gov. Otti applauded the association for the gesture, and pledged to give it all necessary support to actualise the project.
He thanked the Association for its decision to consider Abia as one of the states to benefit in the first phase of the scheme.
Otti said that the proposed eye vision centres would address the prevalent issue of visual impairment due to refractive errors.
He said that Government would identify the areas where the centres will be located and pledged to provide the needed support for the take off of the project.
“I want to also thank you for the decision to consider Abia. Just like Oliver Twist, we will always ask for more. But I think what is important for now is to take advantage of the offer and work closely with you.”
The Governor said that his administration had started the process of renovating primary health centers in the state, assuring that it will come to reality as soon as the renovation and retrofitting of General Hospitals are concluded.
“Anything that we do we do it very well, so as we start the process of renovating primary healthcare centres, because we started with three General Hospitals and we move to the remaining 12 because there are 15 General Hospitals.
“We are just retrofitting them and bringing them up to speed with current realities in healthcare delivery. As we complete with that, we move over to the primary health centres,” Otti noted.
On the request for the upward review of salaries and allowances of Optometry Doctors in the Abia State civil service,Governor Otti revealed that his Special Adviser on Labour relations is working on dealing with salary review holistically.
Senior Special Assistant on Special duties, Dr Betty Emeka-Obasi who is a member of the Association and supervises the eye clinic at the Abia Specialist and Diagnostic Centre, Umuahia, was among Government officials present at the visit.