Most eye operations are done in private hospitals in Indore even 40 years after the launch of the National Control of Blindness (NCB) programme and this is mainly because most government doctors advise patients to come to their clinics, a report said.
Of around 42,000 operations – mostly relating to cataract and cornea transplant – conducted from March 2015 to March 2016, only 999 were done in government establishments such as the district hospital and MY Hospital. The rest were either done in charitable trust hospitals or private hospitals or doctors’ clinics, a district health society’s report said.
From March till July this year, of the 8650 eye operations, 240 were done in government hospitals, the report said, exposing the seriousness of government hospitals’ ophthalmologists when the central scheme aims to reduce prevalence of blindness to 0.3% by 2020.
“The figures prove that optometrists are not doing their job seriously as very few patients are coming through their channels,” said Mukesh Sinha, executive director of the Madhya Pradesh Voluntary Health Association.
“Indore has around 12 optometrists and even if each brings one patient every day, the figures will improve. Most operations are related to cataract, which is easy to detect,” Sinha said on Saturday.
“A common complaint of the patients visiting government medical facilities is that doctors are hardly seen during duty hours. Lower-income groups go to charitable trusts for eye care. Patients from middle- and high-income groups prefer private hospitals as government doctors work there.”
A senior ophthalmologist said a number of eye doctors prefer to see patients in their clinics as it allows them to make money.
“A fixed amount cannot be calculated for a cataract operation. The amount varies depending on the lens, doctor and other facilities. So a doctor quotes between Rs 8,000 and Rs 30,000 depending on his experience,” the senior ophthalmologist said.
Asked about the poor performance of government hospitals in eye care, joint director (health) Dr Sharad Pandit said, “Eye care is highly privatised. This practice began since the year (1976) NCB was launched. The health sector back then didn’t have much infrastructure, so we relied on NGOs to bring patients to us. After so many years, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that private clinics and charitable trusts are way ahead of government hospitals in operations.”
Not sounding hopeful of improvement in the situation, Pandit said, “We send doctors to workshops to try to motivate them. If they are adamant about pulling the patients to their clinics, not much can be done.”
STATE OF EYE CARE
From March 2015 to March 2016
42,000: Total number of operations
532: Total number of operations undertaken in MY hospital
467: Total number of operations in district hospital
From March to July 2016
8,650: Total number of operations
171: Total number of operations in MY hospital
69: Total number of operations in district hospital