With a population of over 182 million people, Nigeria is one of the most populated countries in the world. Rising poverty rates, poor education and underfunded healthcare systems are some of the key factors that have contributed to the large percentages of children with avoidable blindness and visual impairments. This consortium SiB programme lead by CBM seeks to improve the comprehensive eye health services for 1.5 million children aged 0-14 years in 11 states of Nigeria. The programme will be implemented between February 2017 and January 2020.
Whilst there is not a great deal of national research into childhood visual impairment in Nigeria, studies have highlighted important causes of childhood blindness in certain locations within the country. In the North, for example, a study documented that 58.6% of the blind children were blind due to avoidable causes, 38.4% were preventable and 19.2% treatable. In many of these studies, the leading causes of blindness in children are cataract, cornea scaring resulting from trachoma, measles, Vitamin A deficiency, eye injuries, neonatal infections and harmful traditional practices. Many of these causes are preventable and treatable. It is expected that in the targeted states the programme will be able to cover around 80% of estimated number of children needing surgeries, 17% of estimated number of children needing spectacles and 28% of estimated number of children’s low vision needs.
The project aims to carry out the following objectives:
- Develop skilled and adequate manpower to provide comprehensive child eye health services at various levels of health care in the targeted project areas
- Improve the quality, accessibility and scope of eye health services to children
- Embed child eye health in the policies and programme work of the Ministries of Health and Education
- Pilot strategies for inclusive eye health
- Establish the school eye health programme as a sustainable model to deliver eye health services to children
- Improve the quality of early intervention and education of blind children and children with severe visual impairment