Lagos state government says it has so far screened no fewer than 65,000 primary schools pupils in its public primary schools for eye defects and impairments under her School Health Programme.
The screening exercise, according to the State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris who spoke in Lagos over the weekend, is one of the strategies employed by government to reduce the incidence of childhood blindness and pupils dropping out of school or performing poorly as a result of poor vision. Idris explained that in addition to the eye screening exercise, the pupils benefitted from health education on environmental sanitation, personal hygiene, oral hygiene, care of the eye and adequate nutrition adding that government has moved a step further by training teachers in the act of childhood blindness prevention amongst pupils.
He pointed out no fewer than 1,295 teachers have been trained on basic eye blindness detection and prevention and equipped with screening kits and certificates stressing that the training otherwise known as vision screening does not require any specialty since it is just require them (the teachers) to screen the students and detect on time those with poor vision so as to be treated on time and those that need glasses among them will be given.
The Commissioner stressed the importance of the programme particularly against the background that research has revealed that a lot of students dropped out of school as a result of poor vision which made them to perform poorly in their academics.
He added that the Ministry of Health is collaborating with the Ministry of Education in other to ensure that teachers in all the 802 public primary schools in the state are properly trained in this aspect with each school provided with a vision corridor and a self tested billboard noting that the training of the teachers has started to yield benefit as the teachers have so far screened 17,572 pupils out of which 13,626 were detected to be having vision impairment.
“We have a government that is highly responsive and responsible, and one that takes the health of its citizens very seriously, this has been our noble drive that every child in Lagos should see properly and not drop out of school or become street beggar as a result of a disease that is both preventable and treatable”, the Commissioner noted.
Idris assured that the State government will continue to run the school health programme as well as other public enlightenment and health promotion programmes and activities designed to enhance public awareness on diseases of public health significant.
“The health advocacy and communications unit of the Ministry of Health will continue to advocate the promotion and adoption of healthy life styles and provide an enabling environment to encourage appropriate health seeking behaviour through individual and group counseling, development and distribution of information, education and communication materials,” the Commissioner averred.