Palike turns a 'blind eye' to blindness control programme

Palike turns a 'blind eye' to blindness control programme

A majority of the City’s population has been denied of free treatment for eye diseases because the National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) has not been implemented in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) limits.

Despite repeated requests by the doctors and officials of the Health Department, the programme was never launched by it. BBMP’s Chief Health Officer Dr S B Nagaraj is also unaware of the national programme. “I did not know that free cataract surgeries are conducted under the programme. It should be extended to the BBMP limits as well,” he said.

As many as 35 patients from Channapatna were discharged and ferried back to their respective places on Wednesday, after they underwent successful free cataract surgeries at the Government Minto Ophthalmic Hospital in the City, a couple of days ago. They were screened at a local eye camp and brought to Bangalore from the Public Health Centre (PHC) in Channapatna.

Dr P Rajanna, a senior specialist at the Minto Opthalmic Hospital said, the national programme is being successfully conducted across the State and some of the private eye hospitals are also involved in the programme.

“But, Bangaloreans have not availed of the benefits of the programme since eye camps are not conducted in the City. It is quite possible that the poor, who are visiting private hospitals for cataract operations, are shelling large sums. They are unaware that free cataract surgeries are held under the NPCB programme,” he said.

Dr Mula Anuradha, Joint Director, (Opthalmology), Directorate of Health and Family Welfare Services, said she was not aware why the eye camps were not conducted in the City. Several patients from across the State visit the government hospitals in the City and also private hospitals like Narayana Nethralaya, Modi Eye Care, Bangalore West Lions Super speciality Eye Hospital, Sankara Eye Care, etc. They are hardly aware of the blindness programme. The Palike should appoint ophthalmologists on deputation to conduct eye screening camps, so that the programme can be extended to Bangalore also, she said.

The programme is now planning to include other eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and childhood blindness, apart from cataract detection and surgery camps. There are also plans to hike the incentive amount from Rs 750 to
Rs 1,000, offered to private hospitals by the government, towards treating a patient picked from an eye camp, she added.

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