Latter-Day saints conduct free surgeries for cataract, glaucoma patients in Lagos
… Joy in Lagos as hundreds get free screening, eyeglasses
By Tessy Igomu
His smile was infectious as he chatted heartily with others inside one of the waiting rooms of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Iyana-Ejigbo, Lagos. For Mr. Charles Mofunanya, a cleric, who for 20 years lived with cataract, an eye ailment that had drained him financially, nothing compared to finally regaining his eyesight at no cost.
Mofunanya was among those that benefited from a three-day free eye treatment and screening exercise carried out by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in collaboration with Eye Foundation Centre. The programme, which held at the LDS Chapel, Iyana-Ejigbo, had patients undergoing eye examinations to detect ailments like glaucoma and cataract, among others.
As early as 8am, the various halls earmarked for the exercise had been filled by hundreds of young and elderly patients with various eye complaints. After the conclusion of preliminary medical examinations, which included documentation of individual’s vital information, the patients were promptly attended to by professionals.
A total of 2,100 people were attended to within the three-day exercise, with five glaucoma and 50 cataract patients variously identified and scheduled for surgery. Those billed for surgery were later moved to the Eye Foundation Hospital, Ijebu-Mushin. They were later brought back to Lagos and educated on how to effectively take care of their eyes. Five hundred eyeglasses were also distributed to participants identified with minor eye problems.
Speaking on the relevance of the programme, the First Councillor in Egbeda Stake Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Dr. John Oghenekume Okah, described the eye as the window to the soul, noting that its relevance was what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints tried to emphasise by throwing its doors open to indigent members of the community.
Okah said the initiative was carried out by the humanitarian arm of the church, LDS Charity, in collaboration with Eye Foundation Centre, adding that the humanitarian service was meant to benefit everyone, irrespective of their religious or social affiliation.
He explained that the initiative started about 10 years ago in Nigeria but had been in existence in other countries for 50 years. He disclosed that the church just concluded a similar exercise in Benin City, Edo State.
Speaking on why the church chose to focus on the eye, Okah noted that the eye was the most vital organ in the human body. He said the programme was going to be continuous, and would be replicated in other regions of the country.
“Whatever affects mankind is important. Christ himself restored sight to blind Bartimaeus during his ministry on earth. The exercise is also a way for the church to play its role of community service to mankind. We will continue till we reach indigent members who can’t afford the high charges in all corners of the country,” he said.
The church leader noted that LDS Charity just concluded a training on neo-natal resuscitation, in collaboration with the Paediatric Association of Nigeria in Kano State, where doctors were tutored on how to revive newborns.
Okah said four IDPs camps in the northern part of the country were provided with clean, potable water, drugs and food.
His words: “The LDS, which is the humanitarian and welfare arm of the church, at times, renovates hospitals, markets and other public places. We have also visited a school in Mushin where we provided the pupils with a toilet facility. LDS has also renovated Igbogbo Health Centre in Ikorodu. In doing this, the costs are never disclosed, as we carry out the biblical injunction of not allowing the right hand to know what the left is doing.”
Quality control manager, Eye Foundation Hospital, Mrs. Gbogunjoko Halima, declared that the facility was always ready to collaborate with any individual or organisation to help restore sight to the less privileged.
An eye specialist with the hospital, Radiyah Shodunke also advised Nigerians to always carry out yearly eye check-ups. She noted that some deadly ailments like high blood pressure, diabetes and sickle cell anaemia could easily be detected during eye examination.