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Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today launched a free Universal Eye Care programme with an expenditure of Rs 600 crore which aims to minimise the number of people with curable vision impairment in the state. While launching the programme, Patnaik said the initiative would go a long way in controlling curable blindness and added that an institutional mechanism was made for screening and providing free treatment to all people with curable eye problems. "Odisha is the first state in the country to have launched such a programme with an expenditure of Rs 600 crore which will be borne by the state government in the next five years," he said. 'Vision centres' equipped with appropriate eye care facilities would be established initially at all the community health centres (CHCs) and later on at public health centres (PHCs) or even at the sub-centre level to cover the entire population in the state. Requisite trained manpower would be made available to make this programme a success, Patnaik said. All cataract cases would get free operation facility and appropriate glasses, Patnaik said, adding that maximum number of people suffering from corneal blindness would regain vision through corneal transplant surgeries free of cost. A massive screening programme would be undertaken to detect diabetic retinopathy and other serious eye problems, while patients would be provided free treatment at government hospitals.
School students would be screened for refractive errors and other eye problems and they would be given spectacles free of cost in the school itself. Health Minister P K Jena said those who have lost vision due to cataract and diabetic retinopathy would be given free treatment and students would be accorded priority under the programme. Meanwhile, Patnaik also launched a health web portal where people with eye problems can register. Earlier, the state government had constituted a high- level committee headed by noted eye surgeon D P Das. Besides, some national and international NGOs would supervise the programme.
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