Government to encourage children for organ donation

The government would work to encourage children to develop a positive attitude towards organ donation, particularly for eye donation, union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said.

New Delhi: The government would work to encourage children to develop a positive attitude towards organ donation, particularly for eye donation, union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said.

The minister said he would request the human resource development ministry to include passages in school books to develop in children a positive attitude towards organ donation in general and eye donation in particular, an official statement here said Sunday.

Harsh Vardhan, who was attending the centenary celebrations of Shroff's Charity Eye Hospital in Delhi Saturday, said he felt that the youngsters should be exposed to the enormity of blindness problem in India and their responsibility to end the problem.

He said eyesight is one of the biggest gifts of God.

"Unfortunately, the corneal blind population of India is the largest in the world. At a rough estimate, the country needs 1 lakh cornea every year but only about 17,000 are procured. Of these only about 50 percent is utilized," he said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 45 million blind people in the world, of whom 12 million are in India.

Corneal blindness accounts for one percent of the total blind population of the country. The WHO also estimates that the blind population may double by 2020 owing to the rise in population and longevity.

He said: "We need more eye banks. But that is not enough. There should be synergistic interaction among professional health services and community engagement. Increasing awareness, promoting eye donation, implementing quality standards and organising a network of trained professionals for procurement, preservation and distribution of tissues are vital cogs in the wheel."

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