By Sam Esogwa
As part of its plan to ensure that residents of its host communities remain healthy, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), in collaboration with Pro-sight International Eye Foundation has organized a two-day free eye care programme for residents of Umuebulu, an oil-rich community in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The programme, which lasted from 17th to 18th of December, 2019, was part of Shell’s corporate social responsibility to its host communities in Rivers State.
Umuebulu, said to have over ten oil wells, is home to one of Shell’s largest flow stations in the state.
While briefing the beneficiaries before the commencement of the health care service, Shell’s Community Relations Officer (CRO) for Umuebulu, Boma Alalibo, told them that it was for communities where Shell operates. She urged them to inform others about the programme.
Addressing the media on the rationale behind the programme, Dr Bassey Fiebai, a consultant ophthalmologist and team member of Pro-Sight International Eye Foundation, said the programme was meant to help people in the community have access to eye care, adding that most cases of blindness could be avoided when people have access to such services.
“It’s been found that 75 to 80 percent of blindness is avoidable and is present in the rural areas. Some of the barriers that prevent people from coming to take eye services is accessibility and being ignorant that such services are available.
“Sometimes if we find people that we can partner with like SPDC, we take the services to the people so that we can tackle the challenge of needless blindness in the communities,” she said.
One of the beneficiaries of the free eye care service, Christian Kanu, described the programme as nice, adding that he was tested and given free drugs by the medical team.
A Kanu, a middle-aged man from Abia State who resides in Umuebulu Community, expressed gratitude to Shell and the Pro-Sight Eye Foundation for initiating the programme.
Over 250 people benefitted from the free eye care programme.