LAHORE, July 14: The newly-established Punjab Institute of Preventive Ophthalmology (PIPO) has launched a national and provincial primary eye care training programme in 20 districts that have been upgraded by Aus-Aid and Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF), Australia.
Speaking at the launching ceremony of the programme at King Edward Medical College’s auditorium on Monday, Federal Health Minister Muhammad Naseer Khan said the Pakistan government had launched the ‘Vision 2020’ programme to wipe out the disease of blindness from the country.
He said the government was focusing on low-income families, that comprised 70 per cent of the total population, with a commitment to provide them proper medical facilities. He said the government was also attending to provide basic amenities, including modern healthcare facilities, especially to poor people. He lauded the services of FHF to offer support to the cause of treating eye diseases in the country.
He said the government should also nurture different NGOs in medical field to provide them healthcare facilities.
The minister said the time had come that the government should heal the doctors by providing them security, respect and dignity. Earlier, he said, the doctors were being victimized. He also urged the doctors to deal their patients affectionately.
Later answering a question, he said the affairs of the Shaikh Zayed Medical Complex would be streamlined within a few months. He said that he wanted to post a senior professor as chairman of the Shaikh Zayed Medical Complex, but he took up an assignment in the Punjab government on his own.
Australian High Commissioner Howard C Brown said the Australian government was working through the FHF in Pakistan to support the prevention and treatment of eye diseases. He said the Australian government’s cooperation would continue in this regard.
He said it was encouraging that the Pakistan government had launched the ophthalmologists’ training programme after upgrading the district hospitals’ ophthalmic facilities.
Punjab Health Minister Dr Tahir Ali Javed said the government had decided to provide intra-ocular lenses (IOLs) free of cost to all poor patients visiting the eye care facilities for treatment.
He assured the Australian High Commissioner that the Punjab government would ensure that every dollar spent in the province would go to the right place.
He said the Punjab government had also allocated enhanced budget to strengthen its medical and health institutions. He said the government also enhanced per bed per day budget from Rs120 to Rs400. He said the tertiary care hospitals were bearing unprecedented load of patients as every person even suffering from minor ailment visit these facilities.
The minister said the Punjab health department had also finalized to offer bachelors degree programme in nursing.
National Coordinator for Prevention of Blindness Programme Prof Dr Asad Aslam Khan said the launching of the national and provincial primary eye care programme had shifted the focus of eye care from tertiary and secondary level to grass roots level.
The Pakistan government had appointed a national committee with provincial branches for prevention of blindness, he said. The WHO had estimated that there were over 45 million blind people in the world, while around 150 million people were visually impaired. Over 90 per cent of these persons were living in the developing world, he said.
The national committee for prevention of blindness through the Pakistan Institute of Community Ophthalmology, Peshawar, and allied provincial comprehensive eye care cells conducted situation analysis of eye units of all DHQ hospitals in the country regarding personnel, equipment, infrastructure and supply needs; microsurgical training of all the district eye specialists; provision of operating microscopes, he said.
Now, he said, that all districts in Pakistan had the facilities of latest cataract surgery with IOL implantation.
He said the Aus-Aid and FHF had so far donated Rs224 million for prevention of blindness in Pakistan.
National Steering Committee for Prevention of Blindness chairman Prof M Daud Khan, FHF country manager Dr Rubina Gillani, King Edward Medical College principal Prof Dr Mumtaz Hasan, Mayo Hospital medical superintendent Dr Fayaz Ahmad Ranjha and Mayo Hospital’s Institute of Ophthalmology head Prof Dr Nazir Ahmad Aasi also spoke on the occasion.