In an event held at BRAC Centre on December 22, 2013, Secretary for Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Mr.M M Neazuddin mentioned that Vision Bangladesh project should be replicated all across the nation. Terming access to eye healthcare as a basic right of the people, he stressed on the need to excel eye care services for improved quality of life of the community people. He further mentioned that the Ministry will provide all out support for the implementation of this intervention.
Vision Bangladesh Phase- I is a unique intervention implemented by BRAC and Sightsavers under the guidance of National Eye Care (NEC) which aims to avert preventable blindness through cataract surgery. The Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in implementing this project in the grassroots has created an example itself mirroring that such coordinated initiatives can bring about dramatic outcomes.
According to Bangladesh National Blindness and Low Vision Survey 2000 about 750,000 adults aged above thirty years are completely blind out of which eighty percent are due to cataract related complications. The survey also mirrors that about five million people including children suffer from refractive errors. Evidence suggests that about 90% of such blindness and low vision can be prevented with proper and timely management.
Dr. Kaosar Afsana, Director of BRAC’s Health, Nutrition and Population Programme mentioned that about 110,000 cataract surgeries were conducted in Sylhet division in phase-I and now the project is scaling up to 10 urban areas along with few selected rural districts. She further mentioned that NEC’s continuing support and guidance has made vision Bangladesh a successful role model in the eye care services.
Prof. Dr. Deen Mohd. Noorul Haq Line Director, National Eye Care-DGHS and Director cum Professor, National Institute of Ophthalmology & Hospital mentioned that BRAC has shown remarkable progress in mobilizing and counselling patients in the rural area further stating that the target of 100,000 for three years cataract surgeries could not be reached before the end of project period without the extensive support of BRAC.
Later a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between National Eye Care and BRAC which will allow BRAC to continue its operation in Sylhet division for addressing upcoming cataract cases and hard to reach areas.