Blindness is one of the major public health problems in Bangladesh which has received relatively little attention.
According to the National Blindness and Low Vision survey 2000 1.53% of the total populations older than 30 years of age are blind. Among them, 80% are blind because of cataracts. The number of such blind people is about 700,000; the number is increasing at an alarming rate of 130,000 – 150,000 per year.
However, it is possible to prevent cataract blindness by conducting surgical operations using modern facilities. The growing number of cataract blindness can be reduced if 1,500-2,000 patients per 1,000,000 of the population can be operated upon. Against this figure, only 800-1000 cases are being operated under public and private initiatives at the moment. Besides, according to Childhood Study 2001-2003, conducted by the International Center for Eye Health London, approximately 40,000 blind children are living in Bangladesh. Of these, one third (13,000) are due to cataracts and are therefore surgically treatable. A further one third (13,000) could have been prevented from becoming blind through public health intervention such as immunisations, vitamin A supplementation, nutrition and promotion of breast-feeding at an early stage.
To eliminate avoidable blindness, the World Health Organization (WHO) has undertaken a program called VISION –2020. The main objective of VISION-2020 is to eliminate all avoidable blindness from the world by the year 2020.
To eliminate avoidable blindness and control eye diseases, both government and NGOs have taken various types of initiatives in Bangladesh. But these initiatives are not adequate to cope with the situation. Therefore, more initiatives need to be taken to reduce blindness cases in Bangladesh.
The total population of Satkhira District is 1,843,194. Out of them, 931,550 male and 911,644 are female. The estimated number of population above 40 years old is about 33.5% of the total population i.e. 617,470. Of whom 94,478 (1.53%) are cataract patients. In addition, new cases are adding to this backlog. Which increases the blindness rate in Bangladesh.
As there are no adequate eye care facilities and manpower or programmes to deal with this problem, a large number of cataract patients become blind each year and become reliant on their families, society as well as country. Therefore, steps need to be taken for cataract surgery programmes as early as possible to reduce the blindness problem in Satkhira District and your help is vital in this.