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Times of India
20 December 2008
By Umesh Isalkar
Pune, India

Help to Pune DBCS May Rise Ten–Fold
The Union ministry of health and family welfare will extend financial assistance to all eye–related surgeries and made a provision of Rs. 1,200 crore for the National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB). This free facility would be available at designated centres to anyone irrespective of his/her financial condition.

With this move, the financial allocation to the District Blindness Control Society (DBCS), Pune, is expected to increase ten times.

The decision was announced at the first regional meeting of state programme officials of the NPCB in Goa on December 17. Officials from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Daman and Diu attended the meeting.

“We have been giving financial aid for cataract surgeries since 1994. Now, all types of eye surgeries, be it glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, laser treatment, corneal transplantation, childhood blindness or squint surgery, will get financial assistance from the Union government,” V Rajshekhar, deputy assistant director general (ophthalmology), Union ministry of health and family welfare, told TOI.

A provision of Rs. 1,200 crore has been made towards this end in the 11th five–year plan. This is three times more than the allocation in the 10th plan, he added. More funds for eye surgeries

“Private NGO hospitals (hospitals run by charitable institutions), registered with respective DBCS will be given financial aid. And district hospitals and other government–run clinical establishments will be upgraded to carry out all ophthalmic procedures,” Rajshekhar said. “The hospitals which want to do these free surgeries will have to register themselves with the DBCS. Permission will be given to only those hospital which have all the equipment and trained manpower to carry out all types of eye surgeries,” said Basant Bagdi, state programme officer.

An assistance of Rs. 1,000 per case will be given to these hospitals for carrying out the surgeries, he added.

The ophthalmic officials attached with respective DBCS will create awareness about the facility among people at village and taluka levels. And the needy people will be asked to approach referral centres or registered NGO hospitals for the surgeries, Bagdi said.

“The DBCS, Pune, has 25 ophthalmic officials. They will reach out to the people to inform them about the initiative and how they can approach a referral centre or an NGO hospital for the surgeries,” said ophthalmologist Ashok Mahadik, the DBCS’s district programme manager. This initiative is not just for people below the poverty line. Anyone can avail this facility at designated centres, he added.

The financial allocation received by the DBCS, Pune, for the year 2007–08 is Rs. 2.59 crore. “Of which, we extended Rs. 1.77 crore as financial assistance towards cataract operations and eye–ball collection. Now, this allocation will increase ten times as all the eye–related surgeries have been included in the 11 five year plan,” said Mahadik.

Even in places where it is difficult to reach out to people, a private ophthalmic surgeon of that area will be given financial assistance if he/she carries out the surgeries for free, Mahadik said.

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