It certainly feels good to learn that JSP Communications, the public relations agency in Nigeria and Africa which has contributed to the success of technology brands like Intel, NOKIA,Microsoft,Apple, Symantec, Qualcomm and to some of the world’s most admired brands like Emirates in Nigeria, has realigned its corporate social responsibility strategy around education and helping the blind. To this end, JSP affiliated to Hill + Knowlton, has formed a strong partnership with the new African Blind Foundation, whose mission is to “educate, support and encourage the visually impaired members of the society in Nigeria and Africa and give them hope. ”
At a grant presentation ceremony, the Global Strategist of JSP Communications, Dr Phil Osagie stated that, ” we identify ourselves fully with the vision of the African Blind Foundation not only in providing support for the blind but also in paying particular attention to preventive strategies. In Nigeria as well as the entire African continent, blindness and poverty as a whole is worsened by three main forces of scarcity- the scarcity of resources, scarcity of expertise and scarcity of will. Contrary to popular opinion, our main problem is not the scarcity of resources, it is more the insufficient level of will in the society at large.
A Sight Savers survey revealed that in Nigeria, over 1,000,000 adults are blind and another 3,000,000 are visually impaired. 42 out of every 1000 adults aged 40 and above are blind. Overall, two out of three Nigerians are blind from causes which could be avoided, such as cataract, which is the single commonest cause of blindness.
Blindness is almost three times more common in the dry northern areas (the Sahel) than in southern delta areas. Illiterate participants were also twice as likely to be blind as those who were literate.
The survey also found that almost half of all procedures for blinding cataract undergone by survey participants had been performed by herbalists (“couching”) and this was more common in the north of the country. During couching an instrument is used to dislocate the opaque lens away from the pupil, into the back of the eye. Almost 100 million people live in surrounding countries that share similar ecological zones to Nigeria such as Benin, Togo and Niger.
The Nigerian Optometric Association has also raised an alarm over the persistent increase in the rate of blindness and glaucoma cases in the country.
The Association said glaucoma was found to be the second commonest cause of blindness, responsible for about 16.7 per cent of the total blindness, adding that 90 per cent of blindness caused by the disease in the world was in developing countries. Glaucoma causes progressive damage of the optic nerve around the brain.
Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide with about 4.5 million persons globally blind due to glaucoma and 50 per cent of affected persons in the developed countries are not even aware of having glaucoma. So education and early prevention is the key
Working with the African Blind Foundation, Nigeria Blind Association and other similar groups, Jsp Communications will support programs that will improve the well being of the blind and drive corporate support towards preventive and interventionist strategies that can reduce the rate of blindness in Nigeria and Africa. As Mother Theresa remarked, “we ourselves may feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
The African Blind Foundation has on its Board of Trustees respected investment banker Mr Bimbo Olashore as well as Imagbe Igninoba, Shadrach Obasa, Michael Fadeyi and two others.