The aim is to detect and treat childhood blindness

The Union government has chosen Narayana Nethralaya here to implement a community paediatric eye programme that involves universal screening of babies till the age of one.

Aimed at detecting various childhood blindness diseases, the programme will be implemented as part of the recently launched Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

Following this, the hospital on Saturday announced the rollout of FOREVER (Focus on Retinopathy of Prematurity, Eye Care, Vision, Eye Cancer and Rehabilitation). To be implemented in 16 taluks of Karnataka on a pilot basis from April first week, the programme was inaugurated by Union Health Secretary Keshav Desiraju on Saturday. Conceptualised by the eye hospital under its Karnataka Internet Assisted Diagnosis of Retinopathy of Prematurity (KIDROP) initiative, FOREVER will use the services of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) to examine babies at critical time points using a low-cost method. Over 3,200 ASHAs will be trained for the pilot project, said Anand Vinekar, programme director of KIDROP and FOREVER.

How it works

“FOREVER cards will be given to each mother. If a child’s birth weight is less than 2 kg, it is referred for ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity) screening, if it is greater than 2 kg, then it is followed for universal screening. The tear-off portion of the card is retained by the ASHA and details are sent by SMS to the FOREVER project team,” Dr. Vinekar explained.

Babies detected to be “abnormal” are referred to the taluk level and thereafter the district hospital depending on their diagnosis. The validation of positive cases will be undertaken by Narayana Nethralaya’s team of experts.

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