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Friday, May 24, 2013

State govt sits on path-breaking initiative to boost eye donation for five months

Centre Suggested Mandatory Request Column in Death Certs


Mumbai: Turning a blind eye to the waiting list for healthy corneas, the state has not taken any step to implement a path-breaking initiative to encourage eye donation five months after it was suggested by the Centre.
   Last December, the Union health ministry's National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) decided that a column should be included in the death certificate so that soon after a demise, the treating doctor or hospital could ask the family concerned whether they were willing to donate the deceased's eyes. The idea behind the "mandatory request for eyes" was to evolve a system wherein cornea donation would become a matter of practice in the long run.
   The state has neither implemented the change nor instructed its major hospitals about it. When TOI contacted an official from the Directorate of Health Services (DHS), he said they were waiting for a nod from the Centre's Registrar of Births and Deaths. The NPCB had said the registrar general had no objection to the proposal.
   "So far, neither has the column been introduced nor has the word been spread about the important move," said Jaswant Mehta, trustee of Parel's Eye Bank Coordination and Research Centre. The city's biggest eye bank and processing centre has a waitlist of over 600 people. "It is unfortunate that a sense of urgency is lacking… As files move from one department to another, we have an increasing queue of people, a majority of whom are children, waiting for cornea transplant."
   Though figures are scarce, it is estimated that the annual demand for corneas in the city alone is 2,000, and around 7,000 for the state. The supply majorly lags the demand. "For 1 lakh deaths registered in the city every year, there are less than 3,000 eye donations," said Dr Prakash Katakia, chairman of Arpan Eye Bank in Ghatkopar.
   Katakia believes a mandatory request for eyes can be a huge step in donation. "If a family physician convinces the kin about the potential lives that one donation can improve, there should not be too much resistance," he said.
   "We are yet to get a final nod from the Centre for its implementation. The introduction of this column is also being debated in other states. Once there is clarity, we will surely introduce it," said Dr R U Kathane, assistant director, DHS


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