About 50 public sector employees within the Ministry of Health were the first group of recipients of their new prescription eye spectacles on Wednesday, compliments the Caribbean Council for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CCB Eye Care Caribbean).
The locally-based organisation partnered with the government of Antigua and Barbuda a year ago to launch the public sector eye care service – a right to sight initiative, which enables workers in the public sector to benefit from free eye examinations and prescription glasses at a reduced cost.
Civil servants earning below $2,000 after statutory deductions are able to receive their eyewear free of cost. Workers from the ministry are the first to receive their glasses because they were the first to be screened.
Speaking during a short ceremony on Wednesday, Health Minister Molwyn Joseph expressed his appreciation to the local organisation for the collaborative effort.
He said that since then more than 5,000 government employees have been examined and more than 600 are scheduled to receive spectacles paid for by the government.
“It is important to give recognition to Prime Minister Gaston Browne who pushed this programme and the fact that we have actually delivered. The Caribbean Council for the Blind intends to complete the examination of all public servants employed within the government service and so this programme will be ongoing,” Joseph said.
Chief Executive Officer of CCB-Eye Care Caribbean Arvel Grant, said the organisation is committed to providing each public sector employee with a comprehensive eye exam, every two years.
According to Grant, when the group looked at the data from the 2011 population census in Antigua it was revealed that just over 7,000 people, who were interviewed, indicated that they were blind in either one or both eyes.
He said when the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda looked at the statistics they were satisfied that everyone within the public sector should have access to frequent eye examinations. The workers who were able to collect their glasses were thankful to the government and the organisation.