By Benjamin Omoike
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday relaunched the Jigi-Bola Health Mission, with a target of 250,000 Lagosians benefitting from the scheme.
JigiBola free healthcare mission aimed at improving the vision of those visually impaired.
Speaking at the relaunch of the mission at the Police College, Ikeja, Sanwo-Olu said the initiative was launched 23 years ago under the visionary leadership of former Governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, out of genuine concern for the wellbeing of Lagosians.
The governor, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Hamzat explained that it was conceived as an initiative to address the issue of growing preventable visual impairment among residents of the state, as many Lagos residents would have lost their sights in the state were it not for the free medical mission.
‘’This initiative which was named “JigiBola” under the Blindness Prevention Programme offered free eye screening, free eye glasses and free surgical operations. Thousands of Lagosians who would have lost their sight as a result of inadequate awareness and lack of financial means benefitted from this programme.
“Today, we are relaunching the Jigi-Bola initiative in celebration of one of the many legacy grassroot outreach programmes of the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and to restate our commitment to improving the wellbeing and welfare of Lagosians,” Sanwo-Olu said.
He said his administration has taken a step further with the Jigi-Bola initiative by broadening its scope to include hearing aid programme, which would cater for the needs of Lagosians with hearing difficulty through the provision of hearing aids and other medical support.’
Sanwo-Olu added that his administration understood that vision and hearing impairment could make life difficult, saying it could be prevented with early care and intervention.
According to him, “that is why we are re-launcing the Jigi-Bola Initiative as a Free Sight and Hearing Aid Programme. The aim of this relaunch is to improve the capacity for efficient eye and ear care delivery and to ensure that Lagosians do not lose their vision and hearing when it could have been prevented.
‘’This initiative is open to all Lagosians, including those in the grassroots across the 20 local government areas. The services to be offered include early detection of eye conditions that may lead to blindness, eye and ear health education, free eye surgery and treatment, and also the distribution of hearing aids and eye glasses,’’ he said.
In her welcome address, First Lady of Lagos, Mrs Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu said the relaunch of Jigi-Bola Health Mission, which is a Free Sight and Hearing Aid Programme of the Lagos State Government, marked a significant landmark in the annals of Lagos State and a clear testament of the determination of the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to prioritize all aspects of healthcare delivery.
Quoting WHO, she said globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a near or distant visual impairment, adding that in at least 1 billion or almost half of these cases, visual impairment could have been prevented.
Mrs Sanwo-Olu stated that in Nigeria today, according to International Centre for Eye Health, it is estimated that 2.7 million adults aged 40 years and above have moderate visual impairment and an additional 400,000 adults are severely visually impaired.
“Twenty years ago, former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu conceived an innovation to improve the vision of those who were visually impaired.
“In the year 2001, Jigi-Bola, an initiative borne out of the concern to reduce the negative effect of preventable visual impairment on residents of Lagos State was launched.
“During this programme, free eye screening was administered, while free eye glasses were given to beneficiaries. At certain times, patients with eye conditions requiring surgical operations were attended to at no cost by the Lagos State Government.
“Today’s event, therefore, is a celebration of one of the legacy grassroots outreach programmes of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. In addition to giving free eye care services, this Jigi-Bola Re-Launch Initiative has gone a step further by distributing Hearing Aids. Hearing loss or hearing impairment is the most prevalent sensory disability globally and a condition that is a growing concern,” she said.
The First Lady added that the Jigi-Bola Initiative was designed to strengthen the State’s capacity for efficient eye care delivery at the grassroots, as well as cut across the 20 Local Governments.
She explained that the initiative would include early detection of eye conditions that may lead to blindness; eye and ear health education; free eye surgery and treatment; and distribution of hearing aid.
Mrs Sanwo-Olu disclosed that prior to today’s ceremony, a team of Medical professionals including Doctors, Nurses, Optometrists, Audiologists, Health Records Officers, among others, had been engaged to screen eligible patients for the prescription glasses and hearing aids in conjunction with a Non-Governmental Organisation, BOSKOH Lagos Healthcare Mission International.
In his goodwill message, Senator Anthony Adefuye said the Jigi-Bola programme which gained instant traction and immediate acceptance, during the administration of Tinubu, became a household name on everyone’s lips.
He said the Jigi-Bola was being resuscitated, to bring back its old glory and to put smiles on the faces of Lagosians.
“Jigi-Bola is here again, dusted and fine-tuned, to achieve what it achieved in the past and even more, for the benefit of the good people of our State,” he said, while commending the inclusion of Hearing Aids, which would bring succour to many Lagosians who are hearing impaired.
“Young or old, when hearing devices are used, they go a long way in mitigating the condition of the challenged ones,” Adefuye added.
Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu hailed the relaunched programme, describing it as a laudable initiative that must be embraced by all.
Akiolu called for proper enlightenment campaign to let the people know the benefit of the Jigi-Bola initiative so that they could benefit maximally.
The relaunch of the “Jigi-Bola Health Mission”, was coordinated by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs.