HYDERABAD, India — Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the president of India and chief guest at the joint meeting of the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology and All India Ophthalmological Society, praised both societies for their contributions in fighting blindness in Asia.
“Governments alone cannot combat blindness as effectively as collaborative ventures involving individual doctors, medical associations, volunteer organizations and nongovernmental organizations,” he said.
Shri Pranab Mukherjee
He reminded the audience that, according to the ancient Indian scriptures, the Vedas, sight is the most important of senses. In recognition of this, India had one of the earliest traditions in the science of sight. But India and other countries in Asia have been caught for a long time in a vicious circle in which poverty leads to visual disability and visual disability creates, in turn, new poverty.
“Poverty predisposes the individual to blindness. Empirical studies showed that low incomes not only contribute to high incidence of blindness, but 64% slip into poverty after the onset of the visual impairment,” he said.
Mukherjee told ophthalmologists that there cannot be better satisfaction than giving sight to the sightless.
“This is especially true as only 25% of blindness and 15% of visual impairment in the world are considered unpreventable and irreversible. Therefore, I invite you to count your success not in terms of mere monetary gain, but by the number of people you are preventing from becoming blind,” he said.
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