The Andhra Pradesh government on Thursday launched a free mass eye screening programme with an aim to eradicate blindness.
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy launched the programme 'Dr YSR Kanti Velugu' at Anantapur on the occasion of 'World Sight Day'.
As a part of health reforms, the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government decided to implement the programme to provide cashless comprehensive primary, secondary and tertiary quality eye care services to the state's entire population.
The programme, to be implemented in six phases over the next three years, is estimated to cost about Rs 560.88 crore including free eye screening, spectacles, strengthening of government institutions, hiring of temporary staff, cataract surgeries and other secondary and tertiary eye care management.
Under the first phase, which was launched on Thursday and will continue till October 16, over 70 lakh students will receive primary basic screening by Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA), teachers, Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) and other staff members.
The two-months-long second phase will be launched on November 1. In this phase, secondary screening and prescription of spectacles will be provided to the students.
The Chief Minister said that over 70 lakh students of more than 62,000 government and private schools will be covered in the first two phases.
He said that the programme would prove a boon to the entire population as an estimated 2.12 crore people were suffering from eye-related problems.
"If the problems are not detected in time and necessary measures are not taken to address them, they could lead to total blindness," said Reddy.
From the third to sixth phase, the state government will provide primary mass eye screening, prescription and distribution of spectacles, secondary and tertiary care management (cataract surgeries, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy etc.) to one crore people through village volunteers, ASHA, ANM, Primary Health Centre staff, Para Medical Ophthalmic Officers (PMOOs), all government institutions, Vision Centres, NGOs and all other healthcare functionaries.
Officials said that 1,145 primary health centres, 195 community health centres, 28 area hospitals, 13 district hospitals, 11 tertiary hospitals (Including 2 regional eye hospitals), 115 vision centres, 13 district blindness control societies and 117 registered NGO hospitals will be involved in the programme.
Those participating in the implementation of the 'Dr YSR Kanti Velugu' scheme will include 160 district programme officers, 1,415 health officials, 42,360 ASHA workers, 62,500 teachers, 14,000 ANMs and 14,000 health department employees.