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Times of India
08 September 2009
By Umesh Isalkar
Pune, India

Despite Swine Flu Scare, 24,210 Cataract Ops In 3 Months
Despite swine flu scare, eye ball donation and cataract operations in the district have remained unaffected registering a steady growth over last threemonths.

Notably, the Pune chapter of District Blindness Control Society (DBCS) has recorded 24,210 cataract operations and 261 cornea (eyeball) collection in the last three months against 23,609 cataract operations and 234 cornea collection registered during the same months last year. Incidentally, the pandemic H1N1 influenza has claimed 35 casualties and infected over 900 people affecting elective surgeries and pushing the blood banks to ‘near dry’ condition.

“The spiralling cases of swine flu have not deterred eyeball donations as well as cataract operations in Pune district. In August when the pandemic reached its peak, the Pune chapter of DBCS had recorded 76 eye ball donations against 64 recorded in the same month last year. Besides, a total of 7,754 cataract operations were performed in August this year, as compared to 7,519 performed in the same month last year,” said Ashok Mahadik, district ophthalmic surgeon and district programme manager of DBCS, Pune unit.

National eye donation fortnight National eye donation fortnight
Elaborating further, Mahadik said that total 23,609 cataract operations were performed during June to August last year while the number of operations performed during these three months this year have reached 24,210.

“Similarly, the number of eye ball donations achieved during these three months last year were 234 while this year it is 261,” said Mahadik.

The Pune chapter of DBCS conducts around 90 camps per month where the cataract operations are carried out. For this, DPCS started involving charitable NGO hospitals in the district. “We have got them registered with us as a non–government organisation (NGO). And ever since their involvement the annual performance of Pune chapter of DBCS in carrying out cataract operation has marked a tremendous growth,” said Mahadik.

Among these NGOs, the contribution of H V Desai Hospital, K K Hospital, Mohan Thuse Hospital in Narayangaon, Bharati Vidyapeeth Hospital and National Institute of Ophthalmology (NIO) has been far too higher than the rest.

“Last year we stood second in the state. But considering this year’s performance we are expecting to be ranked number one in the state,” said Mahadik.“As compared with other districts in the state, the performance of the Pune chapter of DBCS has been surpassing the annual target cataract operations as set by State Blindness Control Society (SBCS) ever since year 2001. Last year the percentage is 143 which was an all time high,” said U H Gavande, deputy director of state health services, Pune circle.

Cataract Surgeries, Eye Donations Go Up
The financial grants given by National Programme for Control of B lindness (NPCB) to the Pune chapter for carrying out cataract operations is two crore, which is highest in the entire country, added Gavande. Elective surgeries for everything from blocked arteries to breast surgeries to hernias have registered a significant dip of 60 percent across the city hospitals. Similarly, all the 22 blood banks in the city confronted severe shortage of blood as blood donors refused to turn up for voluntary blood donations in the last two months pushing the blood banks on verge of near dry condition.

“Hospitals across the city registered a significant drop in all types elective surgeries related to urology, neurosurgery etc. Similarly, operations of hernia, piles, thyroid, gall bladder etc. have also registered a major fall due to spiralling case of H1N1 influenza and subsequent casualties being reported in the city,” said surgeon Sanjay Kolte.

Around 96,000 cataract operations, involving government and charitable hospitals, were carried out in 2008–09, while 1066 cornea (eyeball) collection was made in 2008–09 by the DBCS. “Considering the performance till August this year, we are likely to surpass these figures,” said Mahadik.

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