The Communique of the Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) was Issued at the 41st Annual General Conference Held at SIO Events Centre, Benin City, Edo State Held From 5th to 8th July 2017
The theme of the conference was, “BETTER EYE HEALTH – THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ALL”
Preceding the 5th of July, 2017 by the hands-on training on fitting and prescription of contact lenses undertaken by the Family of Optometric Mentors (FOM), the Nigerian Optometric Association’s annual conference, 2017 was declared open on the 6th of July, 2017 by the Chief Host, the Executive Governor of Edo State, His Excellency, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki in the presence of dignitaries which included the Deputy Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly, who chaired the occasion. His Royal Majesty, Omo noba nedo uku akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin, was represented by two high ranking Chiefs.
The rich, noteworthy keynote address was presented by eminent Professor of Primary Health Care, Prof. Hannah Faal. Other eminent Professors of Optometry, Prof. Olalekan Alabi Oduntan and Prof. Matthew Oriowo, Guest Speakers and other speakers delivered thought provoking and enriching papers.
The Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) rose from the conference with the following resolutions:
- Eye health cannot be taken for granted as urgent attention, professional care and diligence are essential in maintaining optimal eye health. Better eye health can only be achieved when all hands are on deck, without prejudice and when everybody plays their part diligently. The NOA through its members, is willing, ready and able to play its part to attain the best eye health achievable for the populace.
- Recognizing that about 60% of school children identified as problem learners have undiagnosed vision problems and that when children cannot see well, they are at an educational disadvantage, the NOA identifies with and accepts the challenge to partner with Edo State Government to conduct vision screening for primary school children in Edo State to detect early, those with visual issues that need attention. Consequent upon this, the Association requests the National Assembly to enact a law making it mandatory for all school children in Nigeria to have a pre-school comprehensive eye health examination conducted by a qualified Board registered eye care practitioner-an Optometrist or an Ophthalmologist.
- The NOA notes the near absence of and the dire need for professional eye care services at the rural level and praises the Edo State House of Assembly led by the ebullient duo of Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Justin Okonoboh and Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Chief. Mrs. Elizabeth Ativie (JP) for their people-oriented programmes. The Association will partner fully with the State and play its part to ensure that eye care services reach the rural areas through the Primary Health Care scheme. All state governments are encouraged to key into making eye care available to the grass roots. No individual needs to travel more than 20 kilometers to get eye care service in Nigeria.
- Government at all levels need to have the political will to ensure that eye care service is available, accessible and affordable to all at all levels. Individuals, companies, civil society organizations, the media, corporate community, foreign envoys and philanthropic organizations are called upon to partner with the Association and provide the necessary support to meet the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) target of reducing the prevalence of avoidable blindness by 25% by the year 2019.
- Challenged by the Keynote Speaker to do more advocacy to eliminate harmful eye care practices and to engage in research, the NOA stressed the need for state chapters and members to engage in consistent advocacy and well undertaken result-oriented research.
- The Association resolved to continue to strengthen the relationships with Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), NAFDAC, the Nigeria Customs and other relevant agencies to ensure that only the right quality eye care products are brought into Nigeria.
- The need for a comprehensive eye examination by an eye care professional before the issuance of a driver’s license was stressed to eliminate hazardous eye conditions that cannot be detected by screening with a vision analyzer.
- The Association stressed the need for mutual inter-personal, inter-professional respect and made a commitment to team work within and outside the eye care system in the overall interest of the patient. Members agreed to play their part to make a positive difference.
- The Association advises all individuals, regional groups and spokespersons for organizations in the country to live in peace and avoid inflammatory remarks and actions that tend to destroy the fabrics of our unity as a nation. They should seek constitutional and lawful means in whatever agitations they need to embark upon.
- Considering that NOA will be 50 years in the year, 2018, the Association agreed to have a well-rounded celebration to mark the Golden Jubilee at her AGM in Abuja in the year, 2018.
Damian Echendu O.D, LLB, MSc, FNOA
Dr. Adesuwa Agbontaen