Blindness control schemes

Ques for Mains - "India has the largest burden of global blindness –about 3.5 million with 30,000 new cases being added each year", Critically comment. Describe the measures should be taken by the government to deal with the same issue.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister, has decided to review the progress of the National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) with a view to toning up its implementation.

NPCB was launched in 1976 as a 100 percent Centrally- funded scheme with a goal to reduce the prevalence of blindness. The Rapid Survey on Avoidable Blindness conducted during 2006-07 showed a reduction in the prevalence of avoidable blindness from 1.1 percent in 2000 to 1 percent in 2006. NPCB has now targeted to bring down the prevalence of blindness to 0.3 percent by 2020 from the present level of 1 percent.

India has the largest burden of global blindness –about 3.5 million with 30,000 new cases being added each year. Only about 35,000 corneas are collected in the country each year whereas 150,000 are needed to combat corneal blindness.

There are many lapses on the part of both the donors’ families and the eye banks in implementing the wishes of a donor. Often the bereaved family members forget to call the eye banks so that the cornea is taken away swiftly. At other times, the collectors fail to turn up on time. The launch of the “Vision Ambassador” scheme of The Project Vision, Bangalore is a significant step towards greater coordination between the donor and the recipient. It is also a form of building up a social movement over eye pledging.

The programme will be based on the work of volunteers who will be called “Vision Ambassadors”. They would act as the link between donors and eye banks which is missing at present. More than 10,000 people have already pledged their eyes with The Project Vision and 1,000 people have been declared “Vision Ambassadors.”


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