Virtual address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President at the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Sri Ramakrishna Sevashrama and inaugurating a new block at Sri Sharadadevi Eye Hospital & Research Centre from Hyderabad on September 4, 2021.

Hyderabad | September 4, 2021

“Sisters and brothers,
It gives me immense pleasure to be a part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Sri Ramakrishna Sevashrama, Pavagada and to inaugurate the new block of the Sri Sharadadevi Eye Hospital and Research Centre. I am happy to learn that this new hospital complex will not  be limited to eye care but would widen the scope of its service by starting cancer detection/treatment camps and ENT treatment camps as well.
Swami Japanandaji, the founder and Chairman of Sri Ramakrishna Sevashrama has for the last four decades been striving to bring quality health care and medical aid to the poorest and neglected sections of society. Over the years, the selfless service rendered by him and his team has helped in reducing Tuberculosis and Leprosy in the community.
I am told that Sharadadevi Eye Hospital has conducted over 32,000 eye surgeries till now since its inception in the year 2000.  It is a remarkable feat and a testament to the commitment, dedication and hard work of Swami Japanandaji and his team.
I am also quite pleased to learn that Sri Ramakrishna Sevashrama has been carrying out many other programmes for the well-being of the community. One of them is imparting daycare education and training to visually affected children by the Sri Sharadadevi Vision Management Institute.
I have also been informed that under "Vatsalya Sudha" nearly a 100 poor children are fed nutritious breakfast every day and are being exposed to healthy thoughts on culture, heritage and patriotism. I would like to compliment Swami Ji for his exceptional and selfless service to the nation.
I have often emphasized that the private sector, cooperative sector, civil society organizations and NGOs’ too must supplement the efforts of the government in every field. That is the key to achieving our national developmental goals. We should all work together as Team India and pave the way for India to attain greater heights.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) at least 2.2 billion people across the globe have a near or distance vision impairment, of which almost 1 billion cases of vision impairment could have been prevented or are yet to be addressed. It was found that although, loss of vision can affect people of all ages but the majority of people with vision impairment and blindness are above the age of 50 years.
In India, approximately 68 lakh people suffer from corneal blindness in at least one eye; of these, 10 lakh people are blind in both their eyes. The National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey 2019 reported that corneal blindness was the leading cause of blindness among patients aged less than 50 years in India, accounting for 37.5% of the cases and was the second leading cause of blindness among patients above the age of 50 years.
Globally, the main causes for vision impairment are uncorrected refractive errors, cataract, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, corneal opacity and trachoma.
According to WHO’s world report on vision, aging populations, changing lifestyles and limited access to eye care are some of the main reasons for the rise in the number of people living with vision impairment.
Dear sisters and brothers,
There is a dire need to prevent avoidable blindness. We need to spread awareness about eye health and develop cost-effective eye care solutions which are accessible to our rural population too. In doing so, the private sector can contribute in a big way by bringing world-class health care facilities to rural areas.
We all are living in a digital age with tomes of information available online. While technology is phenomenally benefitting people across the globe, however, like everything else it comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to children a lot has changed for them, now everything they need is just one click away, be it books, games, activities, or connecting with friends.
During the ongoing pandemic, these digital devices are helping students to continue with their education without any interruption. The flip side is that gadget addiction among children is on the rise and is an issue which needs to be addressed by parents and teachers. Also, due to the increased screen time, problems like eye strain, dry eyes and irritation are believed to be increasing among children. Therefore, while using technology, it should also be ensured that it does not give rise to health issues or those of excessive dependence. Hence, we need to regulate our usage of digital devices and be particularly mindful of this fact in the case of children.
Going forward, most of the things will be digitized, therefore, it is imperative that we find ways to reduce the negative impacts of digitization on our health.
Dear sisters and brothers,
Our friends, who suffer from visual impairment, face many challenges in their life and every effort must be made by each one of us to lessen their difficulties and help them to surmount challenges and make life easier for them.
I would also like to appeal to the government and private sector to build disabled-friendly infrastructure as it would benefit people with disabilities in a big way. Every public building and utility must be equipped with facilities for differently-abled persons. For instance, tactile paving must be installed in public as well as residential buildings to help the visually impaired to navigate easily.  
Like the government sector, the private sector too must actively provide employment to the visually impaired and other people with disabilities by implementing reservation.
Dear sisters and brothers,
Giving the gift of sight to someone is one of the noblest acts.  For various reasons, many people hesitate to come forward and donate their eyes. There is a need to encourage cornea donation in a big way as the demand for corneal donors is huge in the country. I would like to call upon everyone to come forward and pledge to donate their eyes after their death.
I would once again like to congratulate Swami Japanandaji for the wonderful work that he has been doing for the underprivileged. My best wishes to him and his foundation.
Jai Hind!”