The number of people having visual impairment will increase dramatically in the coming decades across the world due to population growth and ageing, behavioral and lifestyle changes, and urbanisation, a new report says.
Among the existing 2.2 billion visually impaired people, at least 1.0 billion people could get prevention through getting proper treatments, according to the report.
The report, titled ‘World Report on Vision’, was launched at an event in the city on Sunday by International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), INGO Forum in Eye Health, and National Eye Care of Bangladesh government.
IAPB represents over 100 NGOs and eye care professional organisations, which are committed to the elimination of avoidable blindness, and enjoys a formal partnership relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to the report, population growth and ageing, behavioral and lifestyle changes, and urbanisation, will ‘dramatically’ increase the number of people with vision impairment and blindness in the coming decades.
“The global need for eye care will also rise dramatically in the coming decades posing a considerable challenge to health systems,” it says.
The WHO report says, the costs of the coverage gap for unaddressed refractive errors and cataract globally are estimated to be $14.3 billion US dollars.
“These are the additional costs that would be required to the current health system using an immediate time horizon,” it added.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque was present at the launching ceremony. He concurrently inaugurated a two-day workshop, titled ‘World Report on Vision – Developing Bangladesh Action Plan’.
The minister said at the event that the rate of blindness in Bangladesh among the 30 plus age group people has declined to 1.0 per cent from 4.0 per cent with government efforts to take Bangladesh free from such diseases.”
Besides, some 4,500 physicians recently joined government service while some 5,500 doctors are on the pipeline to be recruited with aim to facilitate country’s health services.
He underlined the need to ensure modern equipments, skilled manpower, healthy lifestyle and awareness among the people to fight vision impairment.
The government will provide all possible supports in setting up vision centers in all the upazilas of the country to make eye care services available to the grassroots people, he mentioned, adding that the ministry would help setting up vision centers in 130 other upazilas by 2022.
IAPB Regional Chair for Southeast Asia Dr Taraprasad Das presented the keynote paper at the workshop.
Prime Minister's former Health Affairs Adviser Prof Syed Modasser Ali, Directorate General of Health Services Director General Prof Abul Kalam Azad, IAPB Country Chair for Bangladesh and Director General of Medical Education Prof AHM Enayet Hussain, among others spoke at the report launching event.
According to the deliberations of the speakers, 750,000 people are blind in Bangladesh while the number of visually impaired people exceeds 6.0 million.
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