DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!
I am very pleased to be here today to commission this new landmark project – the Abia State Eye Center. This is yet another significant addition to our many health-care legacy projects spread across our State, which include 701 Primary Health Centers spread across our political wards, diagnostic centers at Umuahia and Aba, a Chest Clinic at Umuahia; the upgrading of Amachara General Hospital as a part of Abia State Specialist Hospital for training of our medical personnel etc.
In our persistent search for the increased good health and well-being of our citizens, I cannot stop repeating that I am proud to be a Governor of healthy citizens in Abia State, for it is truly only a healthy citizen that will enjoy the dividends of democracy. That is why we are today adding the Eye Center to serve our citizens.
In commissioning this significant project today, I make bold to say again that I will like to be remembered as a Governor that prevented blindness and removed the burden of avoidable blindness from the citizens of our State. My goal is to return Abians to their 20:20 eye vision, so that they can better appreciate the good work of our Government of Abia State as pursued through our legacy projects.
The burden of preventable blindness is not only in Abia, it is a national and global problem. World-wide, 39 million people are blind, and 246 million have severe or moderate visual impairment; while 90% of these people leave in the developing countries including Nigeria. It is recognized that cataracts is the leading cause of blindness, while glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness world-wide.
But the good news is that up to 80% of the World’s blindness is either treatable, or preventable – using known and cost effective means. Other causes of blindness are harmful eye medication, eye injuries, eye complication of hypertension and diabetes and uncorrected errors of refractions and childhood blindness.
These are where projects like our State Eye Center, would make a major impact through early intervention to prevent avoidable blindness.
Our State is one of the South-Eastern States that have unacceptable high prevalence of low vision and blindness of 4.63% of the total population, and this is too high when compared with the national prevalence rate of 0.7%. An estimated 68% of all those affected live in the rural areas and are elderly people already frail and having other health issues.
These situations left unattended, certainly have economic disadvantages that affect the productivity of our population. This is why we have now stepped up to address the situation in Abia State through the building of the Abia State Eye Center.
In establishing the Abia State Eye Center, we have invested in the best technology in the market, so that our citizens threatened with blindness will use the center to restore their 20:20 vision. This technology will also address the main causes of avoidable blindness and focus on impacting on many of our afflicted citizens to ensure that no one can needlessly go blind.
You have already heard from the Chief Medical Director of this Specialist Hospital about the origin of the Eye Center project and the diagnostic center which we have established here. My thoughts are always focused on improving Abia and bringing to our State those quality projects that improve life, no matter where I am or what I am engaged in.
That is why our Government has not shied away from investing in the cost of this Eye Center. The building that houses the Center was renovated to make it ICT complaint for the installation of the Equipment at a cost of N25 million, while the eye equipment itself cost us N87 million. Our Government is happy that we have made this pro-people investment here to improve the health of all Abians and beyond.
It is our goal to provide easy access to comprehensive eye care which will be integrated into our health system to serve all Abians. We would also work to ensure that those with unavoidable blindness are taken good care of to enable them achieve their full potentials within a rehabilitation service centers.
It is possible to achieve many of these goals through the Eye Center we commission today, which is fully equipped with the latest state of the art instruments for comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of eye problems – made possible by the followings:
- Its state of the art infrastructure that is fully air conditioned for patients and staff comfort.
- It has an ultra modern digital vision assessment machines.
- It includes a Digital Intraocular pressure machines
- It has well-equipped examination rooms of international standards, with slit lamps, direct and indirect ophthalmoscopes and digital lensometers.
- It has a state of the art ultrasound machines, latest central visual field machine, optical coherence tomography and layer by layer machines for eye examination.
- The Center has a standard eye theatre with Phaco Machine and digital operating microscope
- It has a standard ophthalmic pharmacy and optical workshop.
- It is equipped with a dedicated internet service linking all the examinations and instruments for proper data collection and storage.
- And finally, we have collaboration with other Ophthalmic centers, local and international for standardization, evaluation, monitoring , training and retraining of ophthalmic manpower for the State Eye Center.
I have taken these efforts to enumerate the functioning of this quality Eye Center we have provided to assure all Abians that we have gone for the best and that we truly care about you and your health, especially your fight against eye problems and blindness. I therefore encourage all Abians to feel free to patronize the State Eye Center for all your eyes problems. You need not go elsewhere or even to India to search for your eye treatments
With this Eye Center we commission today, I am confident that our Government has attained a comprehensive and robust Health Care System capable of taking integrated care of the health and well-being of our citizens in all areas. We assure you we will continue to do more!
I am very pleased to have our dear brother, the Hon Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu – here to commission the Abia State Eye Center. Your contribution in sustaining and giving depth to Mr President’s transformation agenda in the Health Care Sector will remain commendable for all time. You have also shown enormous support to Abia State in all our activities and drive to upgrade the health care system in our State and we thank you.
I thank everyone that has been involved in the pursuit of this goal and project, especially the Chief Medical Director of our Specialist Hospital, our Ministry of Health and our Consultants. I believe you will all continue to persevere and never relent until we have attained the goal of a predictable health Care system in Abia State that our citizens can rely on at all times.