The Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) has urged the Federal Government to properly integrate eye care for women and children in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Its President, Dr Ozy Okonokhua, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja, saying that it would curb the prevalence of visual impairment.
Okonokhua specifically noted that at the national level government provide the cheapest medicines and glasses under the scheme for those working in the formal sector.
He said that there was need to scale it up to make it more accessible, available and affordable to all, irrespective of status or class.
The expert, however, decried the low coverage of these vulnerable groups and the less privileged in the health insurance scheme.
Okonokhua said that prioritising the general health of this segment of the society under the scheme would go a long way in reducing the nation’s disease burden and as well boost poor health indicator.
“Even, if we cannot make eye care under NHIS available to all strata of Nigerians, we should make it available to the vulnerable groups like women and children.
“If we can make such services available and affordable to children between the ages of five and 14 under NHIS, we will be able to safeguard our future.
“This is because a child who does not have good vision will not be able to do well both academically and socially.
“This will impact negatively on the future of that child and also impact negatively on the socio-economic of that child as well as the Nigerian society,” he said.
Okonokhua commended the FCT Administration for taking bold steps in encapsulating eye care in its health insurance scheme.
According to him, there is a robust eye care delivery system in the FCT Health Insurance Services and such services should as well be scaled up at both the national level and across all states of the federation.
Okonokhua said that such efforts would enable all and sundry with visual challenge to access healthcare easily and would further reduce the burden of visual impairment and blindness.