340,000 people in Sindh blind: WHO
KARACHI: As many as 340,000 people in Sindh are totally sightless and a million are partially blind, according to Prof. Ziauddin A Shaikh, provincial coordinator of the Prevention of Blindness Programme of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
He pointed out that Sindh was the only province to have an approved PC-1 for the prevention of blindness programme, reflecting the commitment of the provincial government for this. He said that since 2000, the WHO’s programme had been instrumental in training 600 lady health workers, 425 general practitioners, 150 healthcare managers and 318 ophthalmologists.
Additionally the programme had provided equipment in order to upgrade the district eye units in 12 districts of the province at a total cost of Rs 27 million. Out of this amount Rs 12 million have been provided by the Fred Hollows Foundation, Rs 10 million by the government of Sindh, Rs 2.5 million each by the WHO and private funds, respectively. During the current financial year, an additional seven units will be upgraded at an estimated cost of Rs 12 million.
Meanwhile, Abdul Hannan Choudhury, regional advisor for the WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region for the Prevention of Blindness is arriving in Karachi on Thursday (today) on a three-day visit on the last leg of his visit to Pakistan.
During his visit Dr Choudhury will be meeting the Sindh advisor for health, Faisal Malik, health secretary Prof. Naushad Ahmed Shaikh, additional health secretary Manzoor Ahmed Memon, Prof. Ziauddin Ahmed Shaikh, provincial coordinator for Prevention of Blindness, Prof. M Saeed Quraishy, medical superintendent of the Civil Hospital Karachi, Capt. M Sharif Lillah, executive director, Layton Rehmatulla Benevolent Trust, representatives of Sight Savers International, Dr Rasheed Shaikh of Al-Ibrahim Eye Hospital and other health professionals working for prevention of blindness in the province.
Dr Choudhury has been urging major NGOs working in Pakistan to try and help people in Afghanistan, where the conditions are dismal and major concerted actions are required. Commenting on this visit, Dr Ghulam Nabi Kazi, the WHO’s operations officer for Sindh, pointed out that restoration of eyesight was usually one of the most cost-effective interventions in the entire health sector.