Discussions on eye care delivery issues at all levels of health care, advocacy campaigns on eye health to target audiences, as well as discussions on organized optometry practice and training will be on the front burner at the forthcoming 45th Annual Conference, Vision Expo and Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA).
The event, scheduled for 12th-16th July, 2022, will see over 2,000 optometrists, other eye care practitioners and industry stakeholders from within and outside Nigeria gather at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital.
Themed “Leveraging Partnership to Transform Optometry and Eye Care in West Africa”, the event will include scientific sessions on research findings, innovations and advances in eye care by optometrists and other major players in the eye care industry.
The NOA, in a statement signed by Dr. Adesuwa Agbontaen, Chairman, Conference Organizing Committee, said the event will feature a broad exhibition showcasing products and services by no fewer than 100 different exhibitors from reputable industries and companies across the globe. This will provide a large platform for knowledge sharing, networking, business and acquisition of professional products and technologies to improve optometry practice and service delivery in Nigeria. Exhibitors and participants will also be eligible to make presentations.
“These annual events also afford optometrists and other conference delegates the opportunity for socio-cultural understanding of cities and cultures in Nigeria, as well as business and social interactions among others,” the statement said.
According to the statement, one of the unique features of this year’s conference will be the NOA Raffle Draw where participants, exhibitors and others who purchase raffle tickets stand a chance to win several prizes during the raffle draw event.
Dr. Agbontaen said the NOA Conference has over the years grown to become Africa’s biggest gathering of eye care professionals with vast opportunities to explore across the various spectrum of endeavours. Key people of influence across the world now explore the platform to get their messages, as relates to eye care and public health, across, seeing the enormous publicity the event generates on the various media platforms and the public at large.
Highlighting some of the key advocacy issues that NOA has been concerned with, the statement said nearly 300 million people around the world are blind, about 90 percent of them live in developing countries, and nearly 7 million of them are in Nigeria; almost 40 percent of people in the world live with visual disabilities; and in Nigeria, close to 50 million persons have some form of visual disability, limiting their ability to work, learn or play.
The NOA said the massive brain drain of eye care professionals and other health care professionals from Nigeria to other countries has worsened the burden of blindness statistics in the country, and called on the government to urgently address the issues surrounding the plight of healthcare workers in Nigeria in order to give the country a fighting chance to avoid an impending blindness epidemic.
Obinna Awiaka, NOA president, said the association would continue to do its best to ensure better eye care delivery in the country.
“As eye care professionals, we will continue to give our best to help change the narrative, and we are calling on all potential stakeholders to come join us as we seek to leverage on partnerships to improve eye health care delivery in Nigeria; hence our theme for this programme, ‘Leveraging on Partnerships to Transform Optometry and Eye Care in West Africa’,” Dr. Awiaka said.
He thanked all those who have partnered with NOA over the years, saying with their partnership, NOA has been able to provide free eye care services in over 100 locations in Nigeria in the last 10 years, reaching over 500,000 persons in the process.
The NOA president called on business owners, researchers, and individuals to attend the conference and leverage the NOA platform and innovative eye care industry potential.
NOA is the prime umbrella association of all licensed optometrists in Nigeria numbering over 5,000 across the country’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and the representative all Optometric interest groups in Nigeria.