Sightsavers Netra Vasant Rural Eye Health Program has been protecting sight and fighting for disability rights since its inception in 1966. Its vision of a world free from blindness and visual impairments has facilitated the onset of several initiatives in every nook and corner of the country. Prevention of visual impairments will enable better access to education, employment and prosperity coupled with increased participation in civil, social and political life.
Amongst several programs, one such Rural Eye Health program by Sightsavers India in association with Fullerton India Credit Company Limited, has been the inauguration of a vision center on 28th September 2018 in Katni district of Madhya Pradesh. The Sightsavers’ Initiative, ‘Netra Vasant Rural Eye Health Program’ was initiated in Sleemanabad village in Madhya Pradesh, approximately 62 km from Jabalpur and 32 km from Katni. The nearest eye medical centers are about 40-50 kms from this village, which proved to be quite cumbersome for the rural masses. This center was well equipped with all ophthalmic equipment and provided advanced eye care services like Vision screenings, Refraction, Glaucoma screening, Blood Sugar and Pressure Test, Cataract screenings, follow-ups etc., which would improve the eye health status of rural communities through strengthened rural health systems.
Madhya Pradesh is very densely populated with 72% of the population residing in rural areas, where the Human Development Index (HDI) is 0.45, much lesser than the national level of 0.51. This causes extreme poverty and morbidity, thereby enhancing ill health especially in the remote areas. The blindness rate is pegged at 2.55%, which makes it one of the most preferred states for implementation of the National Programme for Control of Blindness. With the blind population being pegged at 0.84 million, there are approximately 5 lakh cataract surgeries happening every year. However, the problem of providing good eye health system still needs to be addressed adequately.
Impact Created – Touching Millions of Lives
The inauguration of this vision center in Katni, has been a ray of light in the lives of millions of people, who have been suffering from several problems like Glaucoma, Corneal Opacity, Refractive error etc. A well-organized Government health system has been instrumental in ensuring optimal health services to the needy, with 16003 screenings accomplished between Oct’18-Dec’20. More than 2,000 cataract surgeries were performed during the same time span, propelling hope for a better future to the rural population. Sightsavers’ Rural Eye Health Program has touched millions of lives and have heralded a new dawn in their lives.