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KARACHI: White Cane Safety Day observed

October 16, 2005

KARACHI, Oct 15: A large number of students and concerned citizens participated in a walk organized in connection with the International White Cane Safety Day on Saturday.

The students of the Ida Rieu School and College for the Deaf and Blind started the walk from their institution and after walking through various roads came to the Mazar-i- Quaid and offered fateha.

Noted social worker and artist Jimmy Engineer, Mahar Alavi and Qudsia Khan of the Ida Rieu on the occasion demanded that the issues being faced by the handicapped people in general and visually impaired people be solved on priority basis.

They said that in the western countries the governments provided various facilities to the handicapped people but here they were not even being given their due rights.

The speakers said that the government had fixed a two per cent quota in employment for the handicapped people so they could earn a respectable livelihood and could play their role in strengthening of the economy but it was never fully implemented.

The speakers slammed the politicians for making tall claims and fake promises for the uplift of the handicapped citizens and for not taking any practical steps for the same.

They demanded that practical and concrete steps be taken so that the problems being faced by the handicapped people.

IFTAR PARTY: An iftar party was organized for the handicapped children, who had taken part in the walk, by the social worker Jimmy Engineer at a fast food outlet.

The visually impaired students from the Ida Rieu recited naats, and later took part in a quiz based on Islamic history.

Reportedly there are 1.5 million - two thirds of them women – visually impaired people in the country and according to the National Survey on Blindness and Low Vision, conducted by the Federal Health Ministry during 2002-04, prevalence of blindness has declined from 2.08 million to 1.58 million though the population has increased.

Number of people suffering from blindness in Punjab is approximately 0.9 million, 0.3 million in Sindh, 180,000 in the NWFP, 80,000 in Balochistan and 5,000 in the FATA.

Five major causes of blindness, majority of which are said to be preventable and curable, in the country are said to be cataract (53 per cent), scarring of cornea (14 per cent), glaucoma (7 per cent), refractive errors (3 per cent) and macular degeneration (2 per cent).