CBM’s eye care programmes are comprehensive. They are aimed at eye health in terms of promotion, prevention, curative interventions, and rehabilitation at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of service. CBM aims to attain sustainability by embedding disability-inclusive eye care into state-owned rural health care facilities, which can comprehensively address eye health along with other services in rural communities. By integrating eye care services into India’s existing health systems like Primary Health Care Centres, CBM is tackling the problem of preventable blindness.
In January 2019, the Deputy Director-General of the National Programme of Control of Blindness (NPCB) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare authorised all Regional Institutes of Ophthalmology (RIO) to establish vision centres as stipulated in the RIO guidelines under NPCB & VI. Given CBM’s previous pioneering work, the RIO joined with CBM to promote vision centres for primary eye care. In Rohtak, Haryana, and Rural Bengaluru, Karnataka, Fullerton India Credit Company financed building two vision centres for primary eye screening in 2021.
These inclusive vision centres established at Primary Health Centres serve the most vulnerable community members, including people with disabilities. The project in Bengaluru and Kolkata, covering a population of approximately fifty thousand in each catchment, aims to prevent avoidable blindness by delivering primary eye care services.
Establishing vision centres in PHCs has its own advantages. Early detection and timely intervention with corrective measures help mitigate preventable blindness. This project is unique as referrals for treatment and surgery are scheduled through RIOs, ensuring free treatment for patients. Compared to other vision centres in the community, this model resulted in twice the average footfall. It attracts more attention because patients who come to general wards are advised to undergo eye examinations routinely.
We appreciate Fullerton India for participating in this pilot programme with CBM. The model of eye care has shown us that it can be considered for replication and expansion in all other RIOs across India.