There is no better time for corporate organisations to support government than now, according to Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, as he commends the MTN Foundation’s EyeRIS Restoration Programme initiative to restore sight to over 6,000 people recently in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital. Anthonia Obokoh writes that curbing preventable blindness in Nigeria, despite its magnitude, has become imperative.
According to available statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 90 percent of all blind people live in poor and middle-income countries, including Nigeria, and cataract, a highly preventable and treatable eye disease represents the major cause of blindness.
However, in pursuance of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, MTN Foundation has partnered Ekiti State Ministry of Health and the Eye Foundation to conduct free eye surgery for over 6,000 patients.
The tripartite partnership under the auspices of The MTN Foundation Eyesight Restoration Intervention Scheme (MTNF EyeRIS) is aimed at curbing preventable blindness in Nigeria by conducting free cataract surgeries and providing free reading glasses and drug packs to Nigerians.
A survey of blindness and low vision in Nigeria has found that nearly half a million adults in the country are in immediate need of cataract surgery.
Moreover, a recent phase 2 of the MTN Foundation’s EyeRIS Restoration Programme took place in Ado Ekiti, the state capital.
The initiative, which was part of the Foundation’s commitment to complement government efforts at improving the nation’s health sector, offered free health consultancy to thousands of residents in the state capital.
“There was no better time for corporate organisations to support government than now,” Ayodele Fayose, governor of Ekiti State, commended the Foundation for availing the people of the state with free eye care and corrective surgeries.
However, the governor also stressed the need for corporate organisations in Nigeria to key into the public-private-partnership initiative of his administration to give back to the society.
“The time for positive and impactful partnership is now; this administration is ready to collaborate with well-meaning corporate organisations in Nigeria to key into our public-private-partnership platform and give back to the society. MTN Foundation has proven that this kind of partnership is not only achievable but can also help to improve the standard of living of the common people,” the governor said.
In gratitude, the governor said further, we appreciate the MTN Foundation for fulfilling its corporate social responsibility by assisting us in reducing maternal mortality through this project; “We will collaborate with MTN Nigeria and work with them to ensure smooth business with them in Ekiti State.”
Meanwhile, at the commissioning, Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, chairman, MTN Foundation, reporting the effectiveness of the organisation, said the Foundation had been actively engaged in the war to stop the spread of visual disabilities such as blindness, which affects millions of people globally, with a majority in Africa, Asia and South America.
At least, 6,000 people were offered free treatment for cataract and other ocular diseases at the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti.
“Today, in your beautiful fountain of knowledge state, we are consolidating our efforts to eliminate preventable blindness nationwide,” Adelusi-Adeluyi said.
One of the beneficiaries of the MTNF EyeRIS programme, Remi Lekunsholola, sharing her acknowledgment and happiness, said, “Before my coming, I could not read and write as an educationist. I cannot even watch television or drive. But with this help from the MTN Foundation I can now do things clearly and perfectly. I can drive and see miles ahead of me.”
It can be therefore said that the MTNF EyeRIS project is a response to Nigeria’s low vision and high blindness prevalence rate, which in most cases can be described to cataracts. This recent intervention was done for a period of two weeks and had provided a veritable platform for data collection for epidemiological studies, operational research and planning of disease control.
It could be recalled that in phase 1, more than 34,000 patients in six states (Osun, Abia, Delta, Niger, Sokoto and Jigawa) benefited from the project comprising: 10,610 cataract operation, 11,964 pairs of glasses, and 11,808 drug packs.
Under phase 2, six more states were selected to benefit from the project: Ogun, Imo, Ondo, Akwa Ibom, Kwara and Ekiti, respectively. More than 32,000 patients have benefitted from this phase of the project made up of more than 8,000 free cataracts surgeries, 12,000 free reading glasses and 12,000 free drug packs.
The project has been implemented by the Eye Foundation Centre for the prevention of blondeness (EFCPB), the not-for-profit RM of the Eye Foundation Group (EFG), an organisation and ophthalmological service provider with competence and experience in conducting such medical outreach projects across Nigeria.
Unarguably, the real message was summarised by the Ekiti governor that there was no better time for corporates to support government than now, as he stressed the need for corporate organisations in Nigeria to key into the public-private-partnership initiative of states to give back to the society.
“The time for positive and impactful partnership is now; this administration is ready to collaborate with well meaning corporate organisations in Nigeria to key into our public-private-partnership platform and give back to the society. MTN Foundation has proven that this kind of partnership is not only achievable but can also help to improve the standard of living of the common people,” he said.