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VP Expresses Concern Over Sharp Rise in Blindness

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Vice President Joseph N. Boakai Sr. has expressed concern about the increasing number of blind people in the country. He described blindness as a tragedy, noting that blindness is one the most serious ailments that can afflict humanity.

Vice President Boakai attributed the high rate of blindness partly to the fact that most Liberians do not read and write. “Because a lot of people don’t read, it is difficult for them to detect that they are developing sight problem until it reaches a certain stage,” he noted.

The Liberian Vice President expressed the concern on Monday, December 5, when the Chief Executive Officer of Sight Savers, Dr. Caroline Harper accompanied by the Country Director of Sight Savers, Mrs. Adoley M. Sonii paid a courtesy call on him at his Capitol Building office.

Vice President Boakai thanked Sight Savers for their intervention which, he noted, is helping to reduce the number of people afflicted by blindness, adding, “This is the type of partnership we yearn for.”

Briefing the Vice President earlier, Dr. Harper who is based in the United Kingdom, disclosed that since last year, Sight Savers has treated two million people with eye ailments in Liberia. She said every year, Sight Savers carries on treatment for river blindness and other eye ailments in all the 15 political sub-divisions of the country.

Also briefing the Vice President, Mrs. Sonii said Sight Savers does not go in the field, but rather supplies drugs and other needed items to the Ministry of Health, which goes into the communities and identifies people who carry out the distribution of these drugs. This, she noted, is intended for community dwellers to take ownership of the treatment.

According to the two officials, Sight Savers is working with the Ministry of Health to provide eye care services to the people and to train community residents and health workers to carry out the treatment.

She disclosed that Sight Savers has supported the Government of Liberia to set up a factory that produces eye glasses in Maryland County. “We have eye care services in the Southeast and we will be producing eye glasses there; so there will be no need to come to Monrovia to purchase eye glasses.”

Mrs. Sonii disclosed that Sight Savers on Monday presented two motorbikes and two laptops to the Ministry of Health to help with the work of Sight Savers.

Dr. Harper arrived in the country on Sunday for a week-long visit. She is expected to hold discussions with officials of the Ministry of Education, the United Nations and other relevant institutions before departing the country on Friday, December 9.