Eye care in rural North East India gets much needed boost

Sri Sankardeva Nethralaya, which is a leading eye hospital in Assam, will open two vision centres at Hajo and Sualkuchi under its community eye health project. The project is being launch in partnership with the Canadian NGO Operation Eyesight Universal.

The project is being implemented under the Seeing is Believing Project of Standard Chartered bank.

The bank's head of sustainability said that this was its first project in the Northeast. Five such vision centres, including a mobile unit, will be set up at Hajo, Sualkuchi (Kamrup district), Sarupathar (Golaghat district) and Malbazar (New Jalpaiguri district). The mobile unit will operate in Namsai district, which has difficult terrain and low population density. The vision centres will be linked to base hospitals.

Around four lakh people are expected to be covered by these vision centres.

Since the start, the institute has been offering quality eye care at an affordable cost to the rural population. The prevalence of blindness in Assam is about 2.38%, which is high compared to the national average of 0.9%. 40% of people in Assam suffer from some kind of eye problem.

The institute says it will offer free treatment, including transportation from the vision centres to base hospitals, eye surgery, indoor stay and food to patients from below poverty line.