By Justina Auta
An international NGO, Sightsavers Nigeria, says its Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) survey in Kogi showed that People with Disabilities (PWDs) were 27 times more likely to have blindness and severe visual impairment.
Dr Sunday Isiyaku, the Country’s Director, made this known during the closing ceremony of the Kogi Inclusive Eye Health Programme (IEH) in Abuja.
According to him, one billion people worldwide had some form of disability, with 80 per cent in developing countries and Nigeria having over 25 million PWDs.
He said the current available data showed the need to improve the livelihood of PWDs, who are largely deprived of access to inclusive health services and many others.
“Even as there is lack of data on disability in many developing countries, we are proud to say that through donor funding on this project, Kogi State has generated some data through the RAAB survey.
“This survey showed us that PWDs were 27 times more likely to have blindness and severe visual impairment,” he said.
He added that the survey has provided information that would be useful for continuous advocacy and ensure the risk of visual impairment reduced in an expected timeframe.
He said the just concluded two-year IEH programme in Kogi was part of its Disability Inclusive Development (DID) funded by the UKAid.
The project aimed at improving the livelihood and well-being of PWDs and provide a blueprint that can be replicated to scale-up the health sector nationwide.
Ms Lucy Reeve, the Programme Manager, Inclusion and Framework at Sightsavers, said the project has improved access to eye health services for all people regardless of disability or ability and to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Also, Dr Selben Penzin, Senior Programme Manager, said about 540,000 pounds was spent on the IEH project in Okene, Idah, Kabba and Ankpa Local Government Areas in Kogi.
She added that through the project, three hospitals were renovated and upgraded in line with global disability standard, capacity building and awareness creation advocacy.
Also, they developed intervention to reduce impact of stigma and stigmatisation of PWDs, developed sign language manual and signs, as well as training to improve access to Inclusive healthcare system for PWDs.
Dr Zakari Usman, the Kogi Commissioner for Health, expressed appreciation to the NGO and reiterated their commitment towards sustaining projects that would improve the lives and wellbeing of the people.
Hajiya Fatima Kabir, the state Commissioner for women Affairs and Social Development, appealed to the organisation to extend the projects to other parts of the state.
On his part, Mr Zacheaus Micheal, the Executive Secretary, Kogi Office for Disability Affairs, expressed appreciation to the organisation for their support to PWDs.
Micheal said the IEH programme and many others in the state has improved access to good healthcare, remove communication barrier and many others affecting PWDs.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that other highlights of the day were the presentation of award to the organisation as the Best Performing Humanitarian Organisation by the Kogi government. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Nkiru Ifeajuna/Muhammad Suleiman Tola