From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The President, Nigerian Postgraduate College of Optometrists, Prof. Uche Ikonne, has flayed the dearth of Optometrists in the Edo State health sector, saying that their absence have grossly impacted negatively on the wellbeing of the people of the state.
He said this at the 14th Annual General Meeting/Induction Ceremony of Nigerian Postgraduate College of Optometrists held in Benin City at the weekend.
Reprsented by the Vice President of the College, Prof. Franklin Kio, Prof. Ikonne, said the last recruitment done in Edo State was 12 years ago, and that ever since then, there has not been any recruitment, adding that the, “shortfall in our various hospitals is having an untold hardship on the wellbeing of the people of the state.
“In Edo State, we have very few optometrists working. So in order for them to be very effective, you need to have many of them working, particularly in rural areas. All citizens of Edo State desire good eye care.
“So, when you have an optometrist in an area, he will be able to capture the people who have eye problems there and and refer when necessary in other to safeguard their eyes.
“That is why we are saying, Edo State government, so, please, employ more optometrists.
“From record, the people in service now, the last set that were employed, they have spent 12 years already, and no new optometrists had gone into the service. There seems to be some silent embargoes on the employment of optometrists.
“The thing is the citizens of Edo State don’t have the opportunity of getting good regular eye care. For example, if you have an eye problem, you have to come from Ekpoma now to Benin City to visit the teaching hospital if you don’t visit the private clinics, which are few anyway.
“We think there should be opportunity for the people in Ekpoma to have optometrists services in Ekpoma, in Irrua, Uhunmwode, in Ologbo, Auchi. We may have one or two scattered around, but they are not enough, and they are not equipped enough”, he added.
He said the college which began about two and a half decades ago, has graduated over 100 fellows, adding that twenty-seven new members have just been inducted.
Delivering his keynote address on the theme, “Excellence in eye care: From Research to Clinical Practice,” Prof. F. E. Okieimen, urged optometrists to embark on more researches to better the lots of the profession just as he tasked the management of the University of Benin to do everything in its power to make the optometry a faculty rather than remaining a department that it has been over the years.
Earlier, the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, represented by the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Obehi Akoria, who expressed confidence that the newly inductees have been well tutored, urged them to uphold the tenets of their profession.