Musa Abdullahi (not real names), 55years of age, from Markarfi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, was, for years, cataract-blind. The thing had initially affected the left eye before the right one was also caught up by the wasting eye problem years later.
He roamed the streets looking for financial intervention so he could have the surgery to restore his sight. After several failed attempts, he resigned to fate believing that he was going to die blind until he heard of the ‘Buhari Restores Vision Project’ from a neighbour.
Before anything else, what is cataract? It is caused by clouding of the natural clear lens in eye. It is the leading cause of avoidable blindness and visual impairment worldwide.
In Nigeria, according to reports, cataract accounts for at least 43% of all blindness with about 2million adults aged 40 years and above requiring cataract surgery and over a quarter(650, 000) cannot see at all as a result of the ailment. Most times, those who suffer from cataract in the country cannot afford the money to independently fund the surgery.
As part of the Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria, OSN, strategic eye health plan(Vision for the Future 2018-2022), clearance of cataract backlog remains a top priority. The strategy is to provide high-volume high-quality cataract surgery with intraocular lens implantation by highly skilled personnel in a well-equipped centre.
It’s the need to give clearance of cataract backlog a priority that birthed the Buhari Restores Vision Project, designed and supervised by Federal Ministry of Health, FMOH, led by the Health Minister, Professor Isaac Adewole.
So far, it has been a worthy intervention which is a demonstrable evidence of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration’s commitment to improving the quality of life of the people, especially the indigent and vulnerable.
Like Abdullahi, who has regained his sight completely without paying a dime for the surgery, not less than other 10, 000 poor Nigerians from some states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, have benefitted from the free cataract surgery embarked upon by the Buhari Restores Vision Project.
Obviously elated for being able to see again, Abdullahi was full of praises for President Muhammadu Buhari for remembering the poor through the project. He prayed to God to continuously assist the President in his vision to rebuild Nigeria even as his pet project ‘Buhari Restores Vision Project is giving succour to the blind through the free surgery.
The festival of surgery, which lasted between January and December of 2018, was sponsored by the Buhari Presidency in conjunction with other funding partners.
Although the project has met the 10,000 targets it initially set out to achieve with some of the states even meeting the quota of surgeries assigned to them, the free cataract surgery initiative is still going on in some states because of the successes recorded in the first round. In fact, Governor Nasir El-rufai recently launched the program in Markarfi Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
The project, whose primary purpose is to restore sight to those affected by cataract but don’t have the financial capacity to foot the cost of the surgery independently, is also meant to stimulate the necessary political will to set up substantive State Eye Health Committees in all the 36 States and the FCT with improved sustainability plans and training of the eye health team.
According to the national coordinator, Dr Ibrahim Kana, the project is a partnership between the Federal Ministry of Health, the Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria, State Eye Health Committees as representatives of the state Ministry of Health and other care partners in the country.
Beneficiaries of the surgeries, which was carried out on a first-come-first-served basis were carefully selected to include both unilateral and the bilaterally blind due to cataract whose hypertension and diabetes are both under control.