OEU to spend USD 4 million to eradicate blindness in India

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Kochi, Feb 16 (UNI) Operation Eyesight Universal (OEU), a Canadian charitable organisation, will spend four million US dollars in India this year to achieve its 'Vision 2020' goal of eradicating preventable blindness from the country.

Talking to newspersons after a workshop of its partner hospitals in India here today, OEU Chief Executive Officer Ms Pat Ferguson said nearly 1.1 per cent of the Indian population, totalling about seven million, suffered from blindness, almost 80 per cent of which was curable.

''Another 25 million people in India have to suffer near blindness only because they do not have spectacles,'' she said.

She said OEU would give two million US dollars to Little Flower Hospital at Angamaly in Kerala to set up a new eyecare wing, and the remaining amount would be provided to its other 17 'partner hospitals' in the country.

Claiming that almost 50 per cent of the cataract surgeries in the country ended in failure due to poor post operative care and poor quality of lens and surgical techniques, Ms Ferguson said OEU had been working in the country since 1963 to help the visually impaired.

At least 50 per cent of the eye-related surgeries in its partner hospitals were done free of charge, she said.

The group also enjoyed the status of a consultant for the central government's National Programme for Control of Blindness, which aimed at eradicating preventable blindness from the country by 2020.

Organisation's India Director Lalitha Raghuram said the OEU's partner hospitals had conducted nearly 60,000 eye surgeries in 2007 and screened seven lakh patients.

Besides India, the organisation has operations in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana and Rwanda and its programmes had treated more than 35 million people worldwide.

UNI ARC DS GT VC1758

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