India loses estimated $118 billion due to childhood blindness annually: Orbis report | The Financial Express

India loses estimated $118 billion due to childhood blindness annually: Orbis report

According to health experts, India is home to 9.3 million visually impaired and 270,000 blind children, with more than 75 percent of that figure preventable or treatable.

India loses estimated $118 billion due to childhood blindness annually: Orbis report
Launch of Orbis Report on Cost Benefit Analysis of Investing in Child Eye Health. (FE.com)

India loses an estimated USD 118 billion annually in cumulative gross national income (GNI) due to childhood blindness, a recently published report by Orbis India has revealed. According to the company’s statement, the report titled Cost-Benefit Analysis of Investing in Child Eye Health is based on 2020 estimates and reflects the economic losses incurred by India due to lost productive years as a result of childhood blindness spanning over a period of 35 years, and rising to $158 billion for 40 working years.

The report was launched at the 16th edition of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight – INDIA national conference on Sunday. VISION 2020 is a national forum of concerned stakeholders – government, INGOs, NGOs, Corporate – working together for improving eye care through advocacy, sharing of knowledge, and best practices.

The report revealed that there is an increase in direct GNI loss due to blindness from Rs. 496 billion in 1997 to Rs. 768 billion in 2020 and an increase of 35 percent in the economic productivity of blind persons to $ 835 million in 2020 compared to 1997 estimates.

The Orbis India report also revealed that 35 percent of blindness in children and 82.3 percent of blindness in adults is preventable and treatable. Moreover, hospitalisation rate for eye ailments in India stood at 3.6 per 1,000 people in rural areas and 3.5 per 1,000 people in urban areas annually.

Caregivers spend about 50 percent of the time taking care of children leading to a total indirect cost of Rs. 167 billion ($2.2 billion).

“childhood blindness not just affects the individuals, but also has the ripple effect on socio-economic levels in a community and country at large.” He added, “This report may offer useful information for the government at all levels, policy makers, public health professionals, development partners, community-based organizations, academicians, and the corporate sector for policy formulation, planning and judicious resource allocation. Orbis endeavors to strengthen the foundation of the eye care ecosystem with research-based interventions to encourage investment in treatment and prevention of avoidable blindness.” He also highlighted that only childhood blindness has been accounted for in these estimates whereas interventions much simpler and cost effective can prevent blindness in children if efforts are made to identify vision impairment and blindness in children early,” Dr. Rishi Raj Borah, Country Director – India, Orbis said in a statement.

According to health experts, India is home to 9.3 million visually impaired and 2,70,000 blind children, with more than 75 percent of that figure preventable or treatable. Orbis hopes that this report will engender a new wave of advocacy geared towards achieving zero childhood blindness in India, the company stated.

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