The Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha has flagged off a 3-week free cataract surgery, eye screening and distribution of eye glasses to people suffering from eye impairment in the State.
The programme which is sponsored by MTN Foundation/Eye Project in collaboration with the Imo State Ministry of Health will last from 15th to 31st January, 2015 at the General Hospital Umuguma, Orlu and Okigwe.
Speaking at the flag off ceremony held at the Specialist Hospital, Umuguma Owerri, Owelle Okorocha commended the partner Agencies for extending humanitarian Services to the less privileged in the society which he noted is a replica of the free treatment at the Imo Foundation Centre, Owerri.
He pointed out that lack of vision is a great obstacle to both individual and a nation just as he noted that Nigeria has not done well by neglecting the poor and needy in the society. He therefore commended MTN Foundation for coming to the rescue of people having challenges to their sight while calling on Nigerians to adopt the culture of helping the less privileged. “Life is aimless unless you are able to help those who are in need that is why I invest greater percentage of all I have to charity through the Rochas Foundation,” the Governor emphasized.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Edward Ihejirika thanked Governor Okorocha for his feat in the Health sector which he said helped Imo in attracting the programme, having satisfied the needed requirements from MTN in a contest among the five States in the South-East,Dr. Ihejirika urged Imolites to use the rare opportunity and visit the Specialist Hospital, Umuguma Road, Owerri to receive free eye treatment, screening, surgery (removal of cataract) and eye glasses within the period.
In her remarks, the General Secretary, MTN Foundation, Ms. Nonny Ugboma said the project has been awarded to Imo State for the South-East on merit alone, as she noted that ‘this shows many good things are going on in Imo State.’
Ms. Ugboma who said this is the 2nd phase of the Eyesight Restoration Intervention Scheme aimed at curbing preventable blindness in Nigeria, explained that the screaming, surgery and eye glass distribution will hold on daily basis at the Specialist Hospital, Umuguma, Owerri. She said there will also be eye screening at the General Hospital, Mbaise from 16 to 18th January, St. Anthony Catholic Hospital, Okigwe from 19th to 24th January and General Hospital, Orlu from 26th to 30th January, 2015.
She recalled that in the 1st phase of the programme, more than 34,000 patients benefited in the 6 States involved with about 12,000 surgeries and called on the Imo Health team to ensure the huge success of the programme and exceed 1,200 surgeries within the 3 weeks duration.
In his goodwill message, the Chairman, MTN Foundation, Dr. Paschal Dozie said the programme targets the elimination of eye defects, noting that cataract can cause blindness which is a major handicap in man.
Dr. Dozie maintained that MTN is the only Company in Nigeria that has selected programmes touching the welfare of Nigerians having invested about N10.5 billion in education, training of musicians, women empowerment, scholarships, and other areas of need.
He thanked Governor Okorocha for promoting the welfare of Imo people as he promised ‘we will come back again.’
In an interview with some of the patients already operated upon, Mr. Eugene Okoro from Ikeduru said he was grateful to Governor Okorocha and MTN for helping him regain sight and prayed God to reward them.
Mrs. Joy Ugwu from Ideator North could not hold her excitement as she recounted her ordeal in Calabar where she paid over N45,000 for eye surgery and expressed joy to receive a fast, easy and free surgery to her eye in her own State, Imo; while she poured praised on the Governor, MTN Foundation and the Medical team for the kind gesture.
Highlight of the occasion was the unveiling of patients already operated upon at the hospital, by Governor Okorocha.