Annals of African Medicine
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 184-188

Eye health seeking habits and barriers to accessing curative services among blind beggars in an urban community in Northern Nigeria

1 Department of Ophthalmology, Federal Medical Centre, Birnin-Kebbi, Nigeria
2 Department of Hospital Services, Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, Nigeria
3 Department of Ophthalmology, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Aliyu Hamza Balarabe
Department of Ophthalmology, Federal Medical Centre, P.M.B 1126, Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1596-3519.142289

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Objective: The aim of the following study was to determine the types of intervention sought by the blind street beggars and assess the barriers to accessing available eye care services. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted among consenting blind street beggars in Sokoto, Nigeria between May and June, 2009. A semi-structured interview was conducted to probe issues on historical antecedents of the blindness and the eye heath seeking behavior including the use of traditional eye medications. Assessment of barriers to accessing curative services among the blind persons was explored. Questions were asked and the individual responses were recorded in the questionnaire under the appropriate sections. Results: Two hundred and two of 216 (94.7%) of the examined subjects were found to be blind and included in the analysis. The principal cause of blindness was corneal opacity. Overall 82% of the blindness was due to avoidable causes with majority irreversibly blind. Only 38 subjects (18.8%) sought for intervention in hospitals, others resorted to self-medication (42.1%), medicine store (31.2%) and traditional facility (7.9%). Those that accessed treatment at a hospital did so mainly at a primary health center (50.0%) and General Hospitals (34.2%). The barriers to accessing treatment at the hospital were mainly due to "not taken to any hospital" by the parents/relatives (50.3%) and "services not available" (25.2%). Conclusion: Most respondents resorted to ocular self-medication particularly traditional eye medicines. We advocate for a provision of affordable, accessible and qualitative eye care services with a strong health education component on avoidable causes of blindness.

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