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Eye care facilities to rural people stressed

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Staff Reporter
Ophthalmologists at a conference in Dhaka on Monday stressed reaching eye care facilities to rural people as they suffer more than urban ones from various eye problems caused by malnutrition.
They said as the marginal poor cannot afford enough nutritious food, they frequently face eye complications while most of them suffer from low vision. So, eye care service should be taken to the doorsteps of marginal people, they said.
The International NGO Forum for Eye Health and the National Eye Care (NEC) of the government jointly organized the two-day conference on ‘Vision 2020’ at Spectra Convention Centre in the capital, marking the World Sight Day.
Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Prof Deen Mohd Noorul Huq, co-chair for South East Asia Region of the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) Dr Abu Raihan and country director of Orbis International-Bangladesh Dr Munir Ahmed spoke at the inaugural session of the conference held with line director of National Eye Care (NEC) and director of the National Institute of Ophthalmology and Hospital Prof Dr Jalal Ahmed in the chair.
Prof Noorul Huq said retaining ophthalmologists at the district level is a big challenge. “All concerned need to work to overcome the situation and achieve the goal of Vision 2020.”
Highlighting the progress achieved in the field of ophthalmology in Bangladesh, the DGHS director general said eye care services are going to rural areas.
He praised the local and international organizations and agencies working in the eye care sector and the public-private partnership for their contribution to the field.
Abu Raihan focused on the activities of IAPB and presented a paper titled, ‘Preparing for the Epidemic: Diabetes and Blindness’.
Dr Munir said the main objectives of the workshop are to understand and refresh Vision 2020 and IAPB strategies, reflect on progress, challenges and issues of Vision 2020 goal in Bangladesh, and draft an outline of Bangladesh Plan of Action on Vision 2020 in line WHO Global Action Plan.
About 100 eye care professionals and officials from the government level, NGOs and UN bodies are taking part in the two-day conference.
Blindness is a major health concern in Bangladesh. According to the Bangladesh National Blindness and Low Vision Survey Report (2003), there were 750,000 visually impaired people in the country. Experts say that 12,000 people are added to the figure every year.
To address the concerning issue, Bangladesh has joined the Vision 2020, a global initiative for elimination of avoidable blindness undertaken by the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).