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World Sight Day Symposium – Remarks by the Minister of Health and Wellbeing

REMARKS

by

Honourable Dr. Michael R. Darville, M.P. Minister of Health & Wellness

on the occasion of 

World Sight Day Symposium

Bahamas Society of Ophthalmic Nurses

Church of God of Prophecy East Street Friday, 14th October 2022 9:00a.m.

Bishop Hulan Hanna and saints from the wonderful Church

Director of Nursing, Mrs. Gina Dean,  Director of Ophthalmology, Dr. Rana Greene, 

President of the Bahamas Society of Ophthalmic Nurses, Ms. Italia Gordon, 

President of the Bahamas Alliance for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Mr.

Desmond Brown,

Fellow colleagues, Invited guests, 

Today as we observe World Sight Day and the work of the Bahamas Society of Ophthalmic Nurses (BSON), I think it is quite fitting to say, it is so good to see you this morning.  I do not take it for granted that having sight is truly a blessing and to reference the theme for this year’s World Sight Day, yes I do love my eyes.  I love them so much that I have four.  I have been wearing glasses for more than 30 years and as a diabetic I make it a point to know the status of my eye health just as well as I know my physical, dental and mental health.  

Ladies and Gentleman 

Eye health impacts our quality of life, our education and on the job performance.  I encourage everyone at the sound of my voice to ‘Love your Eyes’. Coordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) in 2000, World Sight Day remains an international day of awareness that draws attention to the importance of preserving and protecting the health of your eyes

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To enhance eye health, it is imperative that persons engage in regular visits to an eye care provider throughout their lifespan.  If you are over the age of 40, it is particularly important for you to have your comprehensive eye exam at least once a year.  Having these visits can help diagnose eye problems at an early stage and put you on a course of treatment that can help you care for your eyes and preserve

sight. 

We must be mindful that chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and hypertension or the effects from related prescription medications can lead to vision impairments or blindness

The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains that over 80% of all blindness and vision impairment is preventable or treatable particularly in the early stages.  Proper diet and exercise, drinking sufficient water and not smoking are just some of the healthy lifestyle practices that cannot only prevent NCDs but also preserve vision.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Eye health professionals, optometrists, ophthalmologists, and ophthalmic specialty nurses continue to lead the way in increasing awareness of the importance of good eye health practices among our population for the prevention of avoidable blindness.

Here in The Bahamas, we are fortunate to have a cadre of eye health professionals in both the public and private sectors who demonstrate their dedication to the preservation of vision.  

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to take this opportunity to once again congratulate the Bahamas Society of Ophthalmic Nurses and its new slate of officers under the leadership of President Italia Gordon. I wish to encourage the Society to remain focused on fostering excellence in ophthalmic services, training, professional development and community support.  Through these initiatives and awareness undertaken by the BSON inclusive of screenings, established referral systems for timely access to urgent care, and the provision of financial aid to the underprivileged, communities throughout the archipelago have benefitted from these services. 

We must be mindful that the Government cannot do it alone.  Through annual awareness campaigns such as World Sight Day and Glaucoma Awareness Week, the BSON in collaboration with the Bahamas Alliance for the Blind [BABVI]; Rotary Club, and other civic organizations demonstrate how public private partnerships can positively impact a nation.  Helen Keller stated “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

So once again on behalf of my Ministry and the thousands of Bahamians who continue to benefit from the dedicated team of nurses, doctors, health care professionals and volunteers I say congratulations to the BSON.  I wish your organization many years of sustained growth and success. Each Bahamian irrespective of age, educational level or socioeconomic status should have the necessary avenues available to make safeguarding their vision a priority.  As we collectively rally against preventable visual impairments and blindness know that this Ministry remains committed to improving the availability and access to eye care services in our public healthcare system. 

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