Orissa first in country to launch Universal Eye Health plan

Bhubaneswar: In an attempt to minimise the number of curable visually challenged persons in the state, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched Universal Eye Health Programme, which is the first of its kind in the country, at Soochana Bhawan  on the occasion of World Sight Day Thursday.

Orissa is the first state in the country to have formulated a Universal Eye Health Programme with Rs 600 crore budget which will be borne by the state in the next five years. “This initiative will go a long way in controlling curable blindness,” the Chief Minister said.

Necessary institutional mechanism has been put in place for screening and providing free treatment to all persons with curable vision problems, Health Minister Pratap Jena said.

“UEHP will focus on providing comprehensive eye care to people of Orissa which will be available on continuous basis, accessible, affordable and equitable from birth to old age. We have targeted at a blind-free state by 2022. Those who have lost their sight to cataract and retinopathy due to diabetes will be given free treatment. Students will be given priority under the flagship programme,” Jena added.

A high-level committee comprising noted ophthalmologist Padma Sri Dr DP Das, other eye experts and some national and international-level NGOs has been set up to supervise all the work under the programme, Jena added.

Patnaik said globally, 285 million people are either blind or visually impaired. Over 80 per cent of these people could be cured with proven, cost-effective interventions, like simple cataract surgery, provision of spectacles to adults and schoolchildren with refractive error, conducting corneal transplantation on corneal blind people, preventing diabetes retinopathy- related blindness by its early detection and management, preventing childhood blindness by preventing infections and nutritional deficiencies.

In spite of known solutions available, the avoidable vision loss prevails in the world. If all the barriers to identify people with vision problems or vision impairment are removed and appropriate services are provided, 80 per cent blindness can be reduced in general population.

World Sight Day is observed October 12 to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. This year, the theme of World Sight Day is “Make Vision Count”.

On the occasion, a web portal was launched to bring all initiatives closer to the people. The portal will help people with eye problems register themselves and get information regarding the availability of free treatment provided by the government. Besides, a special comic book for eye care and a special kit for Asha workers were unveiled.

Earlier, an eye care awareness rally was organised by the State Ophthalmic Cell from Capital Hospita to Soochana Bhawan. It was flagged off by Minister Jena.

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