The Eye Can See initiative is the signature Corporate Social Responsibility health programme of Seplat Energy designed to provide quality eye care for people in its host communities. The aim is to prevent and reduce cases of permanent loss of vision, provide free reading glasses and treat other eye-related problems. Chiamaka Ozulumba reports that the initiative has so far had 86,226 patients screened, 38,555 glasses dispensed and 3,757 eye surgeries performed successfully
The palace of the Benin Monarch on Tuesday and Wednesday May 24 and 25, 2022, in Benin City became a beehive of activities as members of the public comprising all age-grades and strata trooped into the palace to benefit as Seplat Energy Plc, a leading indigenous energy company kicked off its 2022 “Eye Can See” health programme, a Seplat/NPDC Joint Venture (JV) initiative to render free eye care services to members of its host communities and in turn improve the living conditions of the Nigerian people and Africa at large.
The Eye Can See initiative is the signature Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) health programme of Seplat Energy designed to provide quality eye care for people in Seplat’s host communities, prevent and reduce cases of permanent loss of vision, provide free reading glasses and treat other eye-related problems.
Seplat Eye Can See, a flag-ship CSR healthcare programme, the initiative of Seplat Energy, commenced 12 years ago and has so far had 86,226 patients screened, 38,555 glasses dispensed and 3,757 eye surgeries performed successfully.
In Africa, almost 6 million people are affected by glaucoma while 0.5 million are already blind. The top priority for most Ministries of health are HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria so eye care is relatively tiny, with limited resources.
Dr. Amel Meddeb-Ouertani, Executive Vice-President, Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology, while explaining on why we need to come together to tackle glaucoma especially in Africa, in her publication, ‘Glaucoma Challenges in Africa’ said that Africa is the poorest region in the world: ½ of the population live on less than 1 $/ day. Millions of people don’t have access to health care in general and less than 25% currently have regular access to eye care services. In such a context and abject poverty, the prime concern for many is survival and seeking health care is a decision of last resort.
Ophthalmic health care can’t be dissociated from health care in general or from economic growth. Healthy people are more productive, contribute more to the society and are more concerned about their well-being.
Amel Meddeb-Ouertani mentioned that Glaucoma is the commonest cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, particularly in Africa.
In the article published and dated 12th March 2020, following the gathering of some notable experts at the Kampala meeting on Public health Control of Vision loss for Glaucoma, stated that “Glaucoma is the emergent priority for all eye health interventions”, and listed the following 5 main Challenges related to early detection, diagnosis and management of glaucoma in the Middle East-Africa region:
Adequate Infrastructure: Need to ensure that training institutions, tertiary eye units and all high-volume eye units are accordingly equipped.
Affordability & availability of Anti-Glaucoma Drugs: Need to set a national strategy for their procurement and distribution.
Availability of skilled personnel: Need to Identify, support, re-train and recruit personnel. Identify & support training institutions and the deployment of eye care teams from primary to tertiary levels
Patients’ continuous education Need to develop a culturally sensitive IEC strategy -Target patients at risk
Professional organizations, ophthalmological societies, advocacy organizations , civil societies, and NGO’S must use all means to influence the Ministries of health. They need to advocate to the technology and pharmaceutical companies to develop and distribute affordable equipment and drugs especially for African populations. Africa can’t afford the high price of medicine. (WTO) TRIPS agreement contains important flexibilities that can be used to access medicines (like compulsory license allowing local production of patent protected medicines). Pharmaceutical companies can support by developing differential pricing offers for drugs, whereby medicines are sold close to the cost of manufacture. Donors should develop incentives for research and development in health that meet Africa’s need. In the long-term viable markets must developed.
The cost of Ophthalmic health care is a big issue that requires much effort for poor countries. It can’t be resolved without worldwide human solidarity.
Thus, a Global Initiative involving all partners can make a real difference and such giant initiative has been undertaken by Seplat Energy Plc and sustained over the years with its Eye Can See programme.The 2022 opening ceremony of the programme was held at the palace of the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, in Benin City, Edo state on Wednesday, May 25, 2022.
The free eye medicare that started the previous day, is being extended to rural communities in Edo and Delta states clustered in 13 centers in the subsequent days and weeks up to June 13 and 14, 2022.
The Ongoing mind-blowing surgical operations on patients with different types of visual impairments are being successfully carried out, as the patients with serious cases that turned early for the exercise had successful surgeries and have regained their visions clearly again. Other medications and glasses are being given to people that are coming for the free healthcare.
It was a moment of outburst of joy from the patients when the plaster was removed from the eyes that were operated on and their visions and sights were perfectly restored as proven by a test.
Many people that came for the free eye medicare were taken through a carefully arranged process; starting from the profiling point through the vital signs, test for blood sugar, before examination of their eyes and the prescription of appropriate medications by the numerous eye specialists that were on ground to attend to beneficiaries before they were given medicine and glasses.
Speaking at the opening event, Seplat Energy Director, External Affairs and Sustainability, Dr. Chioma Nwachuku, disclosed that the programme is targeted at men, women and children with various eye problems.
She noted that Seplat intends to provide free optical treatment at all levels to members of the communities, prevent and reduce cases of permanent loss of vision, provide free reading glasses and treat other related eye problems, educate patients on ways to care for their eyes and how to detect Glaucoma, educate patients on lifestyle change to reduce the rates of Hypertension & Diabetes.
Dr. Nwachuku, who was represented by Otokhine Emmanuel, Seplat Energy’s Western Assets Base Manager, said this was a flagship programme of Seplat in its quest to bringing smiles on the faces of the people in its host communities.
She said, “This is our flagship health CSR programme and it is meant to deliver quality healthcare to people within the areas we operate. Usually, every year, we execute this programme in various centres across Edo State and Delta State, amongst other locations. We are committed to delivering health care to people, making a difference in the lives of people within the areas where we operate and that is why you will see us do programmes like this.”
“We also have educational improvement programmes such as the Seplat Teachers Empowerment Programmes (STEP); PEARLS Quiz for secondary school students; we have our rested Safe Motherhood programme, which is geared towards supporting pregnant women and mothers. We also have community development projects where we carry out development of our communities such as construction of roads, construction of hospitals and even funding of those hospitals, and ensuring that our communities get the right support.
She also encouraged participants to kindly inform their relations and loved ones in Seplat Western locations to access the programme at the centre’s closest to them, adding that Seplat is ever committed to its hosts communities.
The Edo State Commissioner of Health, Prof. Akoria Obehi, represented by Dr. Stephenson Ojefo, said the state government aligned with Seplat Energy in providing quality healthcare delivery to its citizens, maintaining that few weeks ago, the state government partnered with the Association of Nigerians Physicians in the Americas (ANPA) in carrying out free medical surgeries on its citizens; of which the Seplat Energy Eye Can See Programme is a consolidation of the agenda.
Prof. Akoria said the state government was ever ready to providing Seplat the enabling environment to thrive in the state just as she said the state will always ask for more from them.
The Assistant Director, Office of the Secretary to the State Government, Delta State, Mr. Jude Mordi, who represented the Secretary to the State Government, while commending Seplat for its impact in the society, said it has stood out among its peers in the past 12 years in rendering free eye surgeries and screenings to its host communities just as he called on other companies to emulate Seplat.
For Mr. John Onyekama, Manager, External Affairs, NPDC, who represented company’s Managing Director, Ali Muhammad Zarah, said the company and its partner (Seplat Energy) have been carrying out its job in its host communities without hindrances and thus giving back to the society is a welcome development.
Expressing her appreciation to the organisers of the event after the free eye surgery, Madam Okao Ekogiawere Omorogbe, a beneficiary, said that she was happy that she could see very well with her eyes again.
The aged woman thanked Seplat/NPDC for the initiative, the Oba of Benin Ewuare II for making his palace available and the state government for providing the enabling environment for the exercise to take place.
Similarly, another beneficiary, Prince Victor Ehue, said if he had gone to the hospital to carry out the eye surgery, he would have spent hundreds of thousands in naira for the operation, adding that Seplat Energy/NPDC has done it for him for free.
Seplat Energy Eye Can See is indeed one that is urgently needed and a call for emulation by other corporate entities who have the health interest of the communities where they operate at heart.
Seplat Eye Can See, a flag-ship CSR healthcare programme, the initiative of Seplat Energy, commenced 12 years ago and has so far had 86,226 patients screened, 38,555 glasses dispensed and 3,757 eye surgeries performed successfully