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Baxter India and Sightsavers Launch Vision Centre to Improve Eye Health Services for Delhi NCR Slum Dwellers

Sightsavers 19 January 2018

Baxter India, a leader in health care and Sightsavers, a global development organisation that has been working in India since 1966 to eliminate avoidable blindness opened their first vision centre in Delhi at Tahirpur village, New Seemapuri. This is three months after announcing a collaboration to reach out to thousands of urban slum dwellers in the National Capital Region. The association will result in opening of two more vision centres in Delhi at Uttam Nagar and Badarapur in the near future.
Tahirpur is a densely populated geography of Delhi with barely any eye health services centre. Mr Ravinder Dang, General Manager Baxter India and Mr Prasanna Kumar, Director Programmes Sightsavers India launched the vision centre at Tahirpur village in the presence of community and members from hospital partner ICARE NOIDA. The centre will be open for five days and organise two community camps in a month for screening Diabetic Retinopathy and refractive errors.

“I think the centre will go a long way in addressing the eye health needs of the local population here. Two significant reasons for avoidable blindness are uncorrected refractive errors and cataract, and this centre will help both young school-going children and old population be screened. The critical intervention and further treatment will be meted out by the hospital partner ICARE NOIDA,” said Mr Dang of Baxter India.

Delhi houses a significant proportion of slum inhabitants (20%), largely comprising daily wage earners and migrants, living in poor and unhygienic environments with unattended health needs. Refractive error is the most common cause of visual impairment and the second most common cause of blindness in India. A study conducted in school children in central India in 2007 (National Journal of Community Medicine, Vol. 2 issue 3, Oct-Dec 2011) reported refractive error was the most common (70%) cause of uncorrected visual acuity, with near-sightedness identified in 7% of children aged 5 – 15 years.

“Sightsavers is happy to have opened its 122nd vision centre at Tahirpur village. This 122nd vision centre, a first with Baxter India, will reach out to provide primary eye health care services to thousands of urban poor in Delhi. I would also like to thank our tertiary health care partner ICARE NOIDA for all their support,” said Mr Prasanna Kumar.

Current eye health service provisions in Delhi’s slum areas are limited. For many slum residents with refractive error, road side vendors dispensing cheap quality spectacles without proper refraction are the only affordable form of service. Through the support of Baxter India, Sightsavers’ programme will expand the reach of community eye care in slum areas through the establishment of three new Vision Centres.

The project intervention will directly or indirectly impact the family members, friends and neighbours of each attending beneficiary through learnings on importance of eye health and useful eye health practices. Mr RN Mohanty, CEO at Sightsavers India says, “We consider this to be a very treasured collaboration. Our firm thrust on the philosophy of no person should go blind for causes that are avoidable have led us to continuously provide specialist treatments and eye care facilities for the people in maximum need for it. With support from global leading organisations like Baxter, we are able to do so without any hindrance.”

The overall Major Goals of the project are as follows:
Goal 1: To facilitate uptake of eye health services by improving health seeking behaviours amongst urban poor.
Goal 2: To ensure provision of quality, affordable and convenient eye health services in specific urban slums in Delhi.
Goal 3: Create awareness among the community members on useful eye health practices.

The programme shall walk towards contributing to Vision 2020 – The Right to Sight; the global initiative for elimination of avoidable blindness by the year 2020 launched by World Health Organization.

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