Archaic Specifications, remarkable and intense discomfort because of unfair competition and intruders who threaten the development of a quite promising sector enjoying enormous potential and a skilled and competent workforce. This is the diagnosis made by the Chairman of the National Trade Union Chamber of Opticians-Optometrists, Anis Fekih, in an interview with African Manager.
How do you assess the situation of opticians in light of recent events in Tunisia?
First, I would like to pay tribute to the Tunisian Revolution … to families of martyrs … to Tunisian patriots … for their sacrifices and their courage to recover the path of freedom and dignity. It is a revolution for democracy and freedom. Really, it is an unprecedented godsend for Tunisians. Despite the human and material damage caused during this revolution, it is important to see the good side of the revolution which the country is living through: It opens up tremendous opportunities for our country and a good opportunity to attract foreign investors who will now be convinced to relocate on our site.
However, the optical-optometry sector has been suffering for years, and the latest events were not the sole cause of its difficulties. It is a sector that loses a lot due to the absence of specifications governing the profession. Nothing can be done without these specifications which could really boost this area and could notify the legality of any action within this context.
Our fundamental objective is to organize more this profession, knowing that our country has a competitive base that can ensure the best positioning at the international level.
Because of this revolution, how do you estimate the damage to the opticians?
The sector has suffered the ransacking and theft of several stores with the worst hit 7 establishments located in Tunis and Sousse. In short, the bill is actually expensive: 1.5 billion dinars.
As chairman of the chamber, have you considered putting in place urgent measures to support your colleagues during this crisis?
Certainly, colleagues have done everything to support each others and to overcome the adverse effects of incidents reported during this revolution. In fact, the National Union Chamber and its regional chapters work to take stock of the situation and try to support our colleagues. Professionals in this sector are trying to find solutions especially for opticians and this by contacting suppliers who have taken the necessary steps to facilitate the supply of opticians, and all colleagues who supported each other by exchanging professional equipment
What is your outlook for the coming period?
The Ministry of Health should pay more attention to the optical –optometry industry. Action should be taken, since we have proposed solutions to the authorities regarding constraints and obstacles faced during this period. This is the time in my opinion, to develop specifications that will ensure the development of the sector particularly as the current specifications do not meet the expectations of professionals. Opticians should be put in the same context as pharmacists.
What are your recommendations in this connection?
A greater recognition of optometry is needed since we noted a total ignorance of the importance of this profession. I take this opportunity to say that optometry is the set of techniques and methods for determining various forms of ametropia. It deepens the knowledge of the visual process by establishing techniques and ways to prevent and correct sight problems. It is important to try to protect this area by stepping up efforts to better combat the parallel market, which has greatly affected our industry. Competition among opticians themselves is also an obstacle. For that, compliance with a distance of 150 meters between stores is required with minimum of means that should exist, and this to keep a better image vis-à-vis consumers who have become increasingly demanding. The CNAM is expected to play a key role in this process in that it would increase the tariff of the reimbursement voucher, not exceeding 50 dinars, for the sake of a quality product.