By Jonathan Ugbal
There are 97,500 people living with diabetic retinopathy in Cross River State, a condition that sees about 10 percent of those affected likely to become blind.
Already, 1,000 out of the 10,000 blind people living in Calabar Municipal local government area lost their sight due to diabetic retinopathy says the Dr. Betta Edu who heads the state’s Primary Health Care Development Agency.
She was speaking at the Calabar Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy Collaboration Workshop organized by the Calabar – Wolverhampton Vision 2020 Link held recently in the city where she said there was need to expand the scope of government which is mostly focused on maternal, newborn and child health as well as programs bordering on HIV/AIDS.
“Before now, our focus has been on MNCH, HIV/AIDS, PMCT, etc but now, we must expand our scope,” said Dr. Edu who solicited the help of partners to tackle this.
She gave a brief review of the situation in the country where she said about 1.5 million people are blind, 6 million people severely impaired with 35% of blind cases avoidable.
She said a lot still needed to be done as most communities in the state were unaware of the challenges faced by people with diabetic retinopathy and disclosed the state will soon embark on a massive orientation as well as free eye screening and test.
Mrs. Edu said the state will develop the capacity of health workers to easily detect, screen and treat eye diseases and commended the United Kingdom team on diabetic retinopathy for providing free eye care served for residents in the preceding week.
A medical specialist in Opthalmology and former Chief Medical Director of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Professor Denis Nkanga who had said that 10 percent of diabetes retinopathy patients will develop low sight problems encouraged people above 12 years of age to have their sugar level checked regularly while Professor Hannah Faal advised care givers to be patient centered in managing diabetes retinopathy cases.
The workshop is supported by Vision 2020 Links, the Royal Wolverhampton NHS trust among others.