A lecturer and Ophthalmologist at the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, Dr. Valentina Ideh, has raised the alarm that about 40 million Nigerians are at risk of contracting river blindness in the country.
River blindness is a disease caused by infection with the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus.
Symptoms include severe itching, bumps under the skin, and blindness. It is the second-most common cause of blindness due to infection, after trachoma.
Dr Ideh stated this in Benin during the 20th Faculty Lecture with the theme: Vision 2020 in Nigeria: Myth or Reality.
“Onchocerciasis is perhaps, the most studied filarial infection in Nigeria. The provisional estimates had suggested that 7-10 million Nigerians are infected with Onchocerca volvulus, approximately 40 million are at risk of the disease”, she said.
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She said according to the Global Burden of Disease Study estimate in 2017, there were 20.9 million prevalent Onchocerciasis volvulus infections worldwide, adding that 14.6 million of the infected people had skin disease while 1.15 million had vision loss.
According to her, other causes of blindness are Glaucoma and cataract
She called on the federal government to upgrade its ophthalmology department in all Teaching Hospitals and integrate the Primary Eye Care (PEC) into Primary Health Care (PHC) initiative across the 36 states of the federation.
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