Hyderabad: The Kanti Velugu (light of the eye) initiative is arguably the most efficient public health initiative launched by any Indian State that has in the process also achieved its purpose at multiple levels. The massive universal eye health programme not only provides on-the-spot treatment for eye-related ailments and spectacles to people needing vision correction, but also worked towards spreading awareness on eye ailments among the community, made eyecare accessible to underserved communities and also identified those needing long-term treatment at tertiary care facilities.
At a public healthcare level, the Kanti Velugu scheme, for the first time, also gave health authorities access to hard evidence on prevalence of eye-related ailments, i.e. burden of disease among people of Telangana region. Apart from all that, the scheme played a vital role in capacity building, as a large number of healthcare workers, who participated in the health camp, underwent training on detecting and providing treatment to eye-related ailments for nearly eight months from experts before the initiative was launched.
In combined Andhra Pradesh, prevalence of blindness was reported at 1.5 per cent of the general population. Many population-based studies in unified AP reported that refractive errors and cataract were responsible for 60 per cent of total blindness and 85.7 per cent of moderate visual impairment.
“Before Kanti Velugu, there was no population-based data available on eye-related conditions in the newly formed Telangana State. The massive eye screening programme across the State covering the entire population was a game changer. It gave us an estimate of eye disease burden and at the same time also addressed the correctible conditions such as refractive errors and cataracts on mission mode,” says joint Director, National Programme for Control of Blindness and Visual Impairment, Dr.B. Motilal Naik.
The sheer numbers related to Kanti Velugu scheme are simply stunning. The initiative was launched on August 15, 2018, by Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao and continued for about eight months till March 31, 2019.
By the time the mass eye-screening initiative concluded, a whopping 1.5 crore individuals in Telangana were screened for eye-related ailments, which so far is unprecedented in any other Indian State.
Health officials involved in Kanti Velugu initiative point out that the entire population of Telangana (roughly) 3.5 crore, through various means, was motivated and made aware of various kinds of eye-related ailments.