School eye health screening programme initiated in GB

Our Correspondent
Wednesday, Mar 29, 2023

Islamabad: Towards ensuring eye health and strengthening its commitment to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, ‘Sightsavers’ is initiating the project of ‘School Eye Health Screening’ in Gilgit Baltistan. In this regard, a Letter of Understanding (LoU) has been signed between the Government of Gilgit Baltistan and Sightsavers in Islamabad.

The project will provide screening facilities to the school going children in Gilgit-Baltistan for common eye problems, provide free spectacles for the children with refractive error and also surgical treatment in partnership with department of health. The project will also provide ophthalmic screening equipment for the screening team. Furthermore, the project has also penned down its commitment for the establishment of a Low Vision and IT Resource Centre in Special Education Complex, GB.

Chief Secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan, Mohyuddin Ahmed Wani said that this project is addressing one of the most pressing challenges of eye health of school going children and unavailability of proper screening facilities. He appreciated the role of Sightsavers and said that this project is materializing the Government’s vision of making health facilities available for everyone at grassroot level. Munazza Gillani, Country Director, Sightsavers said that they are working to eradicate avoidable blindness and promote the rights of people with disabilities. This project will make a significant contribution to the effective scaling up of screening, refractive services and eyeglasses provision and will promote the integration of these approaches into government-led national programs.

Secretary Information, Ahmed Khan appreciated this initiative. He said that such initiatives will help ensure good eye health in students and solve the associated issues of school dropouts and compromised learning outcomes. He also added that lack of awareness and proper screening facilities lead to the sufferings of children facing issues of weak eye sight and common eye problems.

Sightsavers is in Pakistan since 1985 and has helped government and other partner hospitals to examine more than 80 million eye care patients and has supported more than 0.7 million cataract surgeries. Furthermore, to combat childhood blindness, Sightsavers has trained 40,000 schoolteachers to screen children in schools. This has led to screening of more than 2 million children in Pakistan for eye health problems, mainly refractive errors, the main cause of school dropouts and compromised learning outcomes. The organisation has provided more than 140,000 eyeglasses free of cost to those children who were identified with weak eye sight.