Hyderabad: During the implementation of Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) initiative in Telangana, researchers from Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and eye specialists from several speciality eye-care centres trained government healthcare workers on screening pre-term babies for the eye ailment.
State-run maternity hospitals receive a huge load of premature babies and getting access to eye specialists to conduct ROP screening at the right time is difficult. To manage shortage of such specialists, the PHFI started training nurses who can conduct screening for ROP.
In fact, the PHFI along with Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust has provided special imaging equipment that will enable trained nurses to conduct diagnostic tests and share the results with ophthalmologists.
To diagnose ROP, infants must be screened within 25 and 30 days after their birth and more than the doctor or a specialist, nurses were ideal healthcare providers who could screen quickly at the given time, PHFI researchers said.
The initiative has also provided training to eye specialists from State-run Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital to conduct laser surgeries in pre-term babies who were screened and diagnosed with the medical condition. Already, 40 infants have undergone laser surgeries, which were performed by doctors of SD Eye Hospital.
The PHFI has also imparted training to 23 ophthalmologists who can screen ROP, seven eye specialists to conduct the laser surgery for treatment, 650 paediatricians and 617 Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) nurses trained in quality improvement, close to 19 SNCUs equipped for screening among infants and seven medical colleges have been equipped with infrastructure.
No screening at private hospitals
While a system has been established to screen infants and pre-term babies, there is no such initiative at private hospitals in the State. “The laser surgery to be conducted on days or months old infants is tough. We have observed that not many private practitioners are keen even to screen the pre-term babies,” Director, IIPH-PHFI, Dr GVS Murthy said.
The ROP pilot project also ensured that diagnostic medical equipment procured for healthcare establishments in Telangana and Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, were fully indigenous.