Arjun Kumar, Anshula Mehta, Simi Mehta and Kuldeep Singh
Vision loss and impairment impacts more than how people see – their capability, employability, income, access to education and healthcare, and more. Vision makes an important contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and with 80% of vision loss being avoidable (as per the WHO), there is a need for government to invest more proactively towards ensuring universal eye health. The National Programme for Control of Blindness and Visual Impairment (NPCBVI) has played an important steering role in India’s efforts in blindness prevention in the South Asia region. Despite of majority of the causes of vision impairment are preventable or addressable through timely detection and screening, yet eye care is not an integral part of universal health coverage. The early advantage due to NPCBVI has now diminished and country is struggling to complete the cataract surgery backlog. However, at the same time, the high prevalence of refractive error is a huge concern for the country. With the last two years spent in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, many new issues for eye care have emerged, including the impact on availability and accessibility of eye care services, and children’s eye health in light of the online teaching-learning paradigm. The eye care sector needs a renewed thrust to clear the backlog of pending eye health services, including cataract surgeries, and to be well-integrated with the agenda of universal health care. Inclusion in coverage must remain a priority, as the country moves ahead with an ageing demographic towards the attainment of SDGs and India@2047.
Dr Arjun Kumar, Director- IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute
Dr Simi Mehta, CEO- IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute
Anshula Mehta, Senior Assistant Director & Deputy Editor- IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute
Kuldeep Singh, Regional Director (India & Bangladesh) at Seva Foundation, USA