India has the distinction of being the home of the world’s largest number of blind people. According to a WHO report for India, 12 million people were reported to be blind and this figure continues to go up by 30,000 every year.
Considering the scenario, Harsh Goenka-led RPG Foundation launched an eye-care intervention initiative Netranjali in 2014-15. The programme has reached out to almost 3 lakh people across the country to help diagnose vision-related problems in a span of less than three years.
The foundation has conducted over 2500 extensive eye check-up camps in over 50 cities and towns including Mumbai, Kolhapur, Nasik, Pune and Nagpur in Maharashtra; Ahmedabad, Halol, Rajkot, Surat, Koteshwar, Bhuj and Banaskantha in Gujarat; Bhubaneswar in Odisha; Bengaluru, Mysore, Chennai and Hubli in Karnataka; Jalandhar in Punjab; Delhi; Faridabad in Haryana; Kanpur, Meerut, Varanasi, Lucknow and Noida in Uttar Pradesh; Kolkata and Asansol in West Bengal; Indore, Jabalpur and Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh; Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Bikaner – Sikar in Rajasthan; Salem and Chennai in Tamil Nadu; Raipur in Chhattisgarh; Hyderabad in Telangana; Ranchi in Jharkhand; Vemagiri in Andhra Pradesh. Approximately 70-130 people are screened in each camp.
Of the three lakh people who were screened, one-and-a-half-lakh were given spectacles and referrals for further treatment free of cost. These camps are set up especially for rural population of the country which has the highest need for this intervention. The demographics of the camps include truckers, slum communities and school children.
“One out of every three blind persons in the world lives in India. But interestingly, 80% of them could have been prevented from going blind if they had received timely treatment. Our aim is to address that gap. From eye check-ups to simple corrective action to help for more serious cases, we want to ensure that the millions of needy, visually impaired people in our country, see a better, happier life. The aim this year is to double our reach by screening more people and expand our presence in North East, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh,” said, Mr Harsh Goenka, Chairman, RPG Enterprises.
Reshma Bharade, an Anganwadi Sevika in a village in Vasai, has a blind son and a six-year old daughter with blurred vision. “My daughter was facing difficulty in reading from the blackboard, thus hampering her studies. I was worried that she too would turn blind. At an eye screening camp conducted by RPG Foundation’s Netranjali programme, I got her checked and they gave her spectacles. Now, she can see the black board and has no problem while studying,” she stated.