In a move to address the pressing issue of vision impairment in Nigeria, President Bola Tinubu has announced the launch of the “Jigi Bola” eyeglass initiative, with plans to distribute five million medicated eye glasses to Nigerians in need.
The initiative’s official commencement took place in Abuja, where President Tinubu voiced his strong support for a partnership between the Federal Ministry of Health’s National Eye Health Programme and the Peek Vision Foundation.
President Tinubu shared a heartfelt personal story, recalling how his first experience with eye health was prompted by his mother’s illness, which resulted in her inability to recognize him. Moved by her plight, he vowed to pursue mass eye care provision to ensure that others in need would have access to the same assistance.
Addressing the dire need for improved eye health services in Nigeria, President Tinubu expressed concern for the more than 24 million Nigerians struggling with varying degrees of vision impairments. He emphasized the critical role of sight and vision in economic development and growth.
The “Jigi Bola” program was initially initiated during President Tinubu’s tenure as the Executive Governor of Lagos State in 2001. It provided free eye screenings and surgeries to Lagosians, setting a precedent for proactive eye care initiatives in West Africa.
Professor Andrew Bastawrous, Founder and CEO of Peek Vision Foundation and Co-Founder of the Vision Catalyst Fund, joined President Tinubu in his commitment to the cause. He highlighted the transformative power of vision care, sharing his personal story of how a pair of eyeglasses changed his life, improving his academic performance and future prospects.
Professor Bastawrous emphasized that eye care remains under-resourced in many countries, including Nigeria, where only a fraction of the health budget is allocated to eye health. He pledged to bring Peek Vision’s methodology and platform to Nigeria to help secure resources from various sources.
At the event’s conclusion, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Mohammed Ali Pate, along with key officials from the National Eye Health Programme, presented a National Policy Document on Eye Health to President Tinubu, marking a significant step toward improving eye care access and services in Nigeria.