Share Your Care Programme: A School Screening Project For Municipal Schools
Every minute, a child somewhere in the world becomes visually impaired. One-fifth of the world’s visually-impaired children live in India.
Childhood blindness refers to a group of conditions that occur during infancy or early adolescence, which, if left untreated, could cause permanent blindness or severe visual impairment that could become untreatable. The World Health Organisation estimates that there are close to 1.4 million cases of childhood blindness worldwide. Of these, over 3,20,000 occur in India, and more than half of these occurrences can be prevented or cured by timely intervention.
The major causes of blindness in children vary widely from region to region, being largely determined by socio-economic development, and the availability of primary health care and eye care services. The key to preventing childhood blindness lies in understand and combating its causes. In developing countries such as India, Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is the leading cause of childhood visual impairment. India also has the largest number of children with Vitamin A deficiency in the world. Other causes include corneal scarring from measles, the use of harmful traditional eye remedies, ophthalmia neonatorum, and rubella cataract are the major causes in low-income countries.
The Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation supports the Bhaktivedanta Hospital’s programme that aims to identify and screen for common paediatric eye problems amongst children in municipal schools.
The Bhaktivedanta Hospital initiated a programme to screen 15,000 children in municipal schools for common eye problems by 2010. With the help of ophthalmologists, optometrists and a paramedical team, the programme successfully screened children for refractive errors, allergic conjunctivitis, squint, paediatric cataract, Vitamin A deficiency, and congenital anomalies.
With the support rendered by the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation, the screening programme covered about 6,000 students studying in classes 4 to 7 in municipal schools across Mumbai each year for two years. Every month, the hospital organised 7-8 camps that covered about 850 students. Following the screening, medicines and Vitamin A support were provided to children who required it.
The Bhaktivedanta Hospital in Mumbai is a state-of-the-art hospital that provides quality medical treatment. Share Your Care is the community outreach arm of the Hospital. It has been addressing the needs of the community through the Bhaktivedanta Hospital since 1998.