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Eye screening of children under 5 in slums begins

Staff Reporter:

Eye screening among under-five children living in slums in capital Dhaka has begun for the first time to determine the extent of their eye problems and ways to address them.
On the first day of the screening, the eyes of around 50 children were examined at the Korail slum on Monday, according to a media release issued on Tuesday.
Dr Md Ashiqur Rahman Akanda, associate professor at the National Institute of Ophthalmology & Hos-pital (NIO&H) led the screening held at BRAC Maternity Centre in the slum.
The screening is being conducted under a joint initiative of Orbis International, the National Eye Care, and BRAC Health Program.
Organisers said they would conduct similar screening among children living in other slums in the capital who have limited access to eye care.
They said the children who are being identified to have been suffering from vision problems are being referred to NIO&H for treatment under the initiative.
“We’ve taken the initiative to determine the extent of vision problems among under-five children and devise the strategies to address them so that the children can return to a normal life,” said Orbis Interna-tional Country Director for Bangladesh Dr Munir Ahmed.
He said eye problems among children below five could not yet be addressed properly for various rea-sons, mainly the difficulties in problem identification.
“The identification of eye problems in children below five is more difficult than in other children since they don’t start attending schools at that age. When children attend schools, teachers or guardians can easily understand if they are suffering from any vision problem,” he added.
According to Dr Munir, one of the main focuses of the screening program is to identify the incidence of Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a major yet preventable cause of childhood blindness worldwide, and make mothers aware of the disease.
Ophthalmologists say ROP may happen in preterm babies who are born before the gestational period of 35 weeks and weigh less than 2 kilograms at birth. According to them, ROP can lead to blindness unless they are diagnosed and treated within four weeks of birth.
Dr Ashiqur Rahman said the program received a warm response from guardians who took their children to the centre to have their eyes examined.
NIO&H Consultant Dr SMA Mahbub Munna and BRAC Eye Care Porgram Manager Dr Rahanuma An-jala also took part in the screening.
Dr Rahanuma said they would track the children referred to NIO&H from the eye screening program to ensure that they are taken to the hospital and get treatment.
Orbis International Bangladesh Associate Director Iqbal Hossain, Program Managers AKM Nurul Kabir and Mahsina Afroz and Communication and Media Specialist Sahos Mostafiz were also present.

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