Some days are quite routine and you just come, do your work and go. Other days are field work days, so they involve travel, several hours into the field, monitoring activities, school eye screenings or going through surgical data from the hospitals.
We visit patients in their homes to see how they are faring. Every day is different.
“How does this affect people? It can be particularly hard for children. If a child has untreated cataracts, it has a profound impact: it affects their emotional state, their social interactions. In the long-term it affects the economy and productivity of these children and their families.
To address these issues, People’s Postcode Lottery is helping to fund the North-West Nigeria Child Eye Health Initiative in Sokoto, Zamfara and Kaduna. It’s aimed mainly at children under 16, to provide access to good-quality eye health. We provide eye screenings for school children, and we train school teachers to carry out the screenings. Any child who fails the test is referred to the district hospital for treatment.
“We also train primary healthcare workers to identify children in their community with eye problems so they can be referred to hospital. We equip these hospitals with the appropriate technology to treat children with eye issues.
In the past year, from 2018 to 2019, we have been able to screen more than 290,000 children for vision impairments. We’ve also dispensed glasses to almost 800 children to help them in school, and we’ve helped to provide cataract surgery to 395 children.
Before this project started, I think there was very little awareness of cataracts in children, and the causes and the treatment. A lot of people in these areas attributed cataract to a spiritual problem, a spiritual curse.
Now, because we’ve created a lot of awareness through posters, flyers and radio programmes, more people are becoming aware of the causes of cataracts and the fact that it is not the child’s fault or the parents’ fault. It’s something that could happen to any child at any time. And it is very treatable, especially if it’s detected early.