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‘I promised my mother’ — Tinubu approves 5m eyeglasses for Nigerians



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President Bola Tinubu has approved a partnership between the federal ministry of health’s national eye health programme and the Peek Vision Foundation to provide more than five million pairs of eyeglasses to Nigerians with sight impairments.

Tinubu made the announcement in Abuja on Friday during a courtesy visit by Andrew Bastawrous, CEO of the foundation and co-founder of the Vision Catalyst Fund.

The president said he was motivated to support the initiative because of his personal experience with eye health.

He narrated how his mother was able to see clearly again after receiving a pair of glasses but had asked him how others in her condition would manage without any support.

“My first experience was with my mother of blessed memory. She was ill and she could not recognise me. When I intervened, she was treated and given a pair of glasses,” the president was quoted as saying in a statement by Ajuri Ngelale, his spokesperson.

“The next question she asked me was: I have you, and you are able to do this for me. What about those other women and their children who may not have somebody like you to intervene for them?

“So I made a promise to her that I will pursue the mass provision of eye care vigorously and that I would provide free eye screenings and surgeries to people because of that question my mother asked me and because of her passion to see others healed.

“We eventually impacted the eye health of millions of people in Lagos, and you could see their joy over the immediate sight enhancements when they were given a pair of glasses.

“I am in support of this initiative, and I will encourage the mobilisation of further commitment to see this through and to reach vulnerable people all across our country. Some parents may not pay attention to this, but I will, because I am touched.”

Speaking also, Bastawrous shared his personal story of how he was able to achieve his academic and professional goals because of vision care.

He said eye care is still “chronically under-resourced” in many countries, adding that the estimates in Nigeria show that 0.0002 percent of the health budget is spent on eye health.

“The good news is that President Tinubu has an excellent team in the health sector, and some of them have demonstrated tremendous leadership in the sector,” he said.

“What we would like to offer is to bring our Peek Vision methodology and platform to Nigeria to help unlock resources from multiple sources.

“In the countries where we have worked, Peek in Botswana unlocked 10 million dollars for the school programme, and in Kenya, 17 million Euros.

“Through the Vision Catalyst Fund, we have secured a donation of 200 million pairs of glasses, and we would like a significant proportion of that to come to Nigeria.”

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