India loses USD 118 bn annually in cumulative GNI due to childhood blindness: Report
New Delhi: India loses an estimated USD 118 billion annually in cumulative gross national income (GNI) due to childhood blindness, according to a report published by Orbis India.
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 USD 158 billion for 40 working years, a statement by the NGO said.
Launched at the 16th edition of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight INDIA’ national conference held recently in West Bengal, it highlighted that there was increase of direct GNI loss due to blindness from Rs 496 billion in 1997 to Rs 768 billion in 2020 and an increase of 35 per cent in the economic productivity of blind people to USD 835 million in 2020 compared to 1997 estimates.
Besides, it also stated that 35 per cent of blindness in children and 82.3 per cent of blindness in adults is preventable and treatable, the statement said.
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. Care givers spent about 50 per cent of the time taking care of children leading to a total indirect cost of Rs 167 billion (USD 2.2 billion), it said.
The VISION 2020: The Right to Sight INDIA’
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 statement said.
Dr Rishi Raj Borah, Country Director, India, Orbis said, Childhood blindness not just affects the individuals, but also has a ripple effect on socio-economic levels in a community and country at large.
This report may offer useful information for the government at all levels, policy makers, public health professionals, development partners, community-based organisations, academicians, and the corporate sector for policy formulation, planning and judicious resource allocation, Borah said.
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.
India is home to 9.3 million visually impaired and 2,70,000 blind children, with more than 75 per cent of that figure preventable or treatable, the statement said.