Reps Mull Amendment of EyeCare Act, to Push for More Centres in S/East, S/West, North- Depty Speaker
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has said that the national eyecare centre act will be amended to provide for the establishment of more centres across the country.
He also said that more institutes are needed to cater for the training of more professionals in optical sector just as he agreed that optometrists should be included in the primary healthcare services at the rural communities.
Kalu made the disclosures during a courtesy call on him by the executives of the Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) led by their president, Dr. Chimeziri Anderson over the weekend.
The association was in Kalu’s office to canvass for support on the amendment of the relevant acts to provide for the establishment of more eye care centres, the training of more professionals and their inclusion in the primary health care delivery.
They expressed concern over relevance of the extant law guiding their practice, saying it has since lost touch with current realities and as such, needed to be rejigged.
Kalu while underscoring the need for health security added that the centres will be spread in line with the federal character principle of the country.
The Deputy Speaker who recently conducted a medical outreach where over 1000 persons with various degrees of eye problems were treated also recalled sponsoring the amendment bill of the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Registration Council Act (Repeal and Enactment) Bill to allow for more efficiency.
He said: “I agree with you that the laws around our eye care are obsolete. The society is dynamic so are the problems. Laws are made to be solutions. Laws are made not to be stimulators of problems.
“The primary healthcare act is not sufficient and I agree with you. Gone are the days when issues about the eyes were considered tertiary. They are primary and should be treated as such if the needed health impact that this administration seeks to achieve must be achieved in the Renewed Hope agenda of President Bola Tinubu who is seeking for health security in our country.
“You’re the second person mentioning this, that Abia should push for national eye center. Someone said that in an engagement with me the other day and then, you’re re-echoing it today. We will go for the amendment of the National Eye Center Act. We are going to put mechanisms in place to push for the establishment of national eye centre. So, we will go for the amendment of the National Eye Centre Act to include Abia.
“While we seek to do that, we will also insist that the need to have more institutions in the other parts of the country especially the south west which is where the president comes from and the other northern parts, in fact, the need cannot be over emphasized. If we are going to have better provision for the eye care service, we must have improvement of skilled professionals in that space which you don’t get on the streets. You get them from institutions and the need has arisen for us to build some more.
“And in this case, we need to site them in line with the section 14 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria (Part B) that has to do with the projects spread across the nation in line with the federal character principle. The South West should be benefiting from the legislative interventions for the establishment of optometric institutions, same with some parts of the north while eyecare centre should go the south east now. That’s the kind of distribution that will increase national cohesion, national loyalty and the prosperity of the federal republic of Nigeria”.
Kalu also stated that legal instruments will be put in place to guide against substandard products in the eye care management.
He called on the national orientation agency (NOA) and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to ensure that the public was enlightened on the dangers of consuming fake optical services.
Earlier in his presentation, the national president of the National Optometric Association, Dr. Anderson said that it was important to review the relevant laws to accommodate current realities in the sector.
“We are set up by law (Decree 34 of 1989) which is 34 years old and which was just changed to CAP 04 2004 which is about 19 years old and we know that a lot of things have changed in terms of health care practice because we believe that science is a dynamic thing that changes with time. A lot of things have changed but our law remains the same. It has not really come to terms with current realities and what is obtainable in global practice.
“On the national Eyecare centre, we have one in Kaduna. A law was recently passed for one in Kogi State. I think it’s right for us to have one in Abia State to cover for the eastern region. Eyecare has not been captured in the primary health care. We believe is not captured in the primary health care bill. We hope that something should be done about it so that we can have optometrists in the primary health care centres. For now, we only have them in the general hospitals but where the need is in the communities. We believe the law could be amended so that we can have it integrated in the primary health care bill”, he said.