Hyderabad: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday stressed the need to prevent avoidable blindness by spreading awareness about eye health and developing cost-effective eye care solutions accessible to the rural population. The private sector can contribute in a big way in this by bringing world-class health care facilities to rural areas, he said.
“There is a dire need to prevent avoidable blindness. We need to spread awareness about eye health and develop cost-effective eye care solutions which are accessible to our rural population too,” he said.
Naidu was speaking virtually at the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Sri Ramakrishna Sevashrama, Pavagada and the inauguration of the new block of Sri Sharadadevi Eye Hospital and Research Centre, an official release said.
Terming ‘giving the gift of sight’ as one of the noblest acts, he called upon people to overcome their hesitation and come forward to donate their eyes after death.
Referring to the huge demand for corneal donors in the country, he said there is a need to encourage cornea donation in a big way.
Drawing attention to the major health challenge of corneal blindness, he quoted the National Blindness survey (2015-19) and said that in India, approximately 68 lakh people suffer from corneal blindness in at least one eye, of whom around 10 lakh are blind in both their eyes.
“The National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey 2019 reported that corneal blindness was the leading cause of blindness among patients aged less than 50 years in India, accounting for 37.5 per cent of the cases and was the second leading cause of blindness among patients above the age of 50 years,” he said.
Expressing concern over the hardships faced by people with visual impairment, the Vice President said the visually impaired face many challenges in their life and all efforts must be made by everyone to lessen their difficulties and help them surmount challenges.
He appealed to the government and private sector to build disabled-friendly infrastructure like tactile paving as it would benefit people with disabilities in a big way.
The Vice President said every public building and utility must be equipped with facilities for differently-abled persons.
“There are guidelines already in place for disabled friendly infrastructure, therefore all the local bodies and state governments must enforce them,” he said.
He called upon the private sector to actively provide employment to the visually impaired and other people with disabilities by implementing reservation.
On the increase in the usage of digital devices during the ongoing pandemic, the Vice President voiced concern over the rise in health problems due to the excessive usage of technology.
He said gadget addiction among children is on the rise and this needs to be addressed by parents and teachers. While using technology, it should also be ensured that it does not give rise to health issues or to excessive dependence, he said.
“We need to regulate our usage of digital devices and be particularly mindful of this fact in the case of children,” he said.
He cautioned that going forward, most of the things would be digitized and therefore it was imperative to find ways to reduce the negative impacts of digitization on health.
Naidu lauded Swami Japanandaji, the founder and Chairman of Sri Ramakrishna Sevashrama, for bringing quality health care to the poorest and appreciated the selfless service rendered by him and his team in reducing Tuberculosis and Leprosy in the community.
“I have often emphasized that the private sector, cooperative sector, civil society organizations and NGOs’ too must supplement the efforts of the government in every field,” he said.
Recalling the ideals and values espoused by Swami Vivekananda on the importance of social service, he said the great monk sought to build a modern India “on the basis of our ancient civilizational value of share and care”.
Naidu appealed to the people to imbibe a spirit of service and contribute whatever they could for the welfare of the poor and the needy.