Rising from its 3-day Annual General Meeting/ Scientific conference, the Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA), has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria, as a matter of national urgency to comply with the Abuja Declaration of 2001, and increase its budgetary allocation to health sector to a minimum of fifteen percent, which will enhance capacity building for eye care workers.
The optometrists made the call through a communique issued at the end of the conference, and duly signed by the President and National Secretary of NOA, Dr Ozy Okonokhua and Dr Ken Giwa-Amu, respectively.
The eye experts further urged the Federal Ministry of Health, the various State Ministries of Health and Hospital Management Boards to work assiduously towards strengthening the eye care team comprising all stakeholders in the eye care service delivery to achieve the Universal Health Coverage.
The 43rd Annual General Meeting/ Scientific Conference of NOA, with the theme: “Achieving Universal Access to Eye Health: The Way Forward”, was held at the Calabar International Convention Centre, Cross River State from 17 to 20 July, 2019.
They submitted that the Federal Government of Nigeria, the various States and Local Government structures, Non-Governmental Organisations, captains of industries should see the need to provide research grants aimed at supporting the carrying out of evidence-based research, interventions and evaluation. These will help in generating baseline and other data needed in achieving Universal Health Coverage.
The conference also recommended that the federal government should take proactive and inclusive steps to mediate and deescalate the rising insecurity in the country, so as to restore lasting peace and stability in the country, which will in turn create the enabling environment for investment, social development and economic progress.
Top among the issues deliberated upon before arriving at their recommendations was the need for more effective policies to be formulated and more impactful programmes designed to facilitate the full integration of Primary Eye Health into Primary Health Care in order to help achieve Universal Health Coverage.
It was also discussed at the conference that Optometry Services should be fully integrated into Primary Health Care in order to reduce the incidence of blindness and visual impairment in Nigeria.
The issue of security for healthcare professionals posted to rural communities was not left behind, as they called for adequate provision of infrastructure and security for concerned healthcare professionals.