New Delhi : The Vice President, M. Venkaiah Naidu today stressed the need to prevent avoidable blindness by spreading awareness about eye health and developing cost-effective eye care solutions which are accessible to the rural population. He said that the private sector can contribute in a big way in this by bringing world-class health care facilities to rural areas.
The Vice President was speaking virtually at the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Sri Ramakrishna Sevashrama, Pavagada and the inauguration of the new block of the Sri Sharadadevi Eye Hospital and Research Centre. Terming ‘giving the gift of sight’ as one of the noblest acts, Shri Naidu called upon people to overcome their hesitation and come forward to donate their eyes after their death. Referring to the huge demand for corneal donors in the country, the Vice President said that there is a need to encourage cornea donation in a big way.
Drawing attention to the major health challenge of corneal blindness, Shri Naidu quoted the National Blindness survey (2015-19) and said that in India, approximately 68 lakh people suffer from corneal blindness in at least one eye and of these around 10 lakh people are blind in both their eyes. “The National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey 2019 reported that corneal blindness was the leading cause of blindness among patients aged less than 50 years in India, accounting for 37.5% of the cases and was the second leading cause of blindness among patients above the age of 50 years,” he added.
Expressing his concern over the hardship faced by people with visual impairment, the Vice President said that the visually impaired face many challenges in their life and every effort must be made by everyone to lessen their difficulties and help them to surmount challenges.
Shri Naidu appealed to the government and private sector to build disabled-friendly infrastructure as it would benefit people with disabilities in a big way. He said that every public building and utility must be equipped with facilities for differently abled persons. “There are guidelines already in place for disabled friendly infrastructure therefore all the local bodies and state governments must enforce them,” he added.
The Vice President called upon the private sector to actively provide employment to the visually impaired and other people with disabilities by implementing reservation.
Noting the increase in the usage of digital devices during the ongoing pandemic, the Vice President voiced his concern over the rise in health problems due to the excessive usage of technology. He said that gadget addiction among children is on the rise and the needs to be addressed by parents and teachers.
The Vice President said that while using technology, it should also be ensured that it does not give rise to health issues or those of excessive dependence. He said, “We need to regulate our usage of digital devices and be particularly mindful of this fact in the case of children.” Shri Naidu cautioned that going forward most of things would be digitized and therefore it was imperative to find ways to reduce the negative impacts of digitization on health.
Shri Naidu lauded Swami Japanandaji, the founder and Chairman of Sri Ramakrishna Sevashrama for bringing quality health care to the poorest and appreciated the selfless service rendered by him and his team in reducing Tuberculosis and Leprosy in the community. He said, “I have often emphasized that the private sector, cooperative sector, civil society organizations and NGOs’ too must supplement the efforts of the government in every field.”
The Vice President recalled the ideals and values espoused by Swami Vivekananda on the importance of social service. Referring to his exhortation that the path of service and the path of spirituality are one and the same, Shri Naidu said that Swami Vivekananda sought to build a modern India on the basis of our ancient civilisational value of ‘share and care’.
Shri Naidu appealed to the people to imbibe a spirit of ‘service’ and contribute whatever they can for the welfare of the poor and the needy. Such a spirit that seeks the well-being of all is the underlying message of our age-old phrase ‘VasudhaivaKutumbakam’, he said.
The Vice President also expressed his appreciation to Smt. Sudha Murty, Chairperson of Infosys Foundation for providing financial help for the newly integrated block.
Tejaswini Ananth Kumar, Chairperson of Adamya Chetna Foundation, Shri Gururaj Deshpande, head of Bangalore Infosys Centre were among those present at the event.