Childhood blindness has multiple causes and these causes vary in different age groups. We understand that a single wide-net screening strategy is not suitable for all diseases in differing age groups. We plan to have community health worker, teacher led, technician led and doctor led screening and diagnosis systems, based on specific conditions with full cycle treatment delivery to ensure that no child will go blind.
Indian estimates for actual visual impairment numbers vary from 14.8% for all school going children to a national estimate of 680,000 blind children of which nearly 275,00 are having refractive errors. Post screening delivery of care including surgical and rehabilitation care suffers from dropout rates due to lack of information, education, and follow up systems. Paying for surgical interventions and repeated follow ups is also a barrier. A comprehensive screen-treat-rehab system is needed.
The project will be implemented in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. This area is selected as we already implement multiple vision screening and treatment programs across 17 districts of the state. A multipronged screen- diagnose-treat or rehabilitate strategy will be implemented to address the following age groups Age <1 and premature, 1-3,3-6 ,6-16, with specific screening, treatment and follow up for each. The aim will be to ensure that no child will go blind for lack of care.
Nearly 75,000 children will be screened across the project areas, more than a thousand of them will receive treatment and care. Rehabilitation will be offered where medical interventions are not suitable. Sufficient personnel will be trained through an unique community based and community owned initiative that will have a lasting impact beyond the project years.