Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Current Affairs - 2019

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ICMR awards Scientists for Excellence in Biomedical Research

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) awarded 46 biomedical scientists from different institutes across the country for excellence in biomedical research. The scientists were felicitated at the event held at ICMR, Delhi for their remarkable contribution. The event was attended by Union Health & Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.

Key Highlights

The award ceremony for distinguished contributions in area of Biomedical Research was organized by ICMR’s Department of Health Research, and Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

These Scientist have done pioneering work in the area of health research to solve various health issues and helped in uplifting health status of the country.

A total 39 awards for the year 2017 and 2018 were presented to 46 scientists, including 14 women scientists. Out of the 39 awards, 2 were given to scientists belonging to underprivileged communities and 1 to a scientist who has conducted research in under-developed areas.

Awardees belong to– ICMR, AIIMS (New Delhi), CSIR-labs, JIPMER (Puducherry), PGI (Chandigarh), SGPGI (Lucknow), IITs, Lady Hardinge Medical College (New Delhi), Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology (SCTIMST) (Thiruvananthapuram), state and central universities and other reputed institutions.

National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey, 2019

The National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey was released by the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan at the 13th Conference of Central Council of Health and Family Welfare.

The survey was conducted by the AIIMS, Delhi and Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The report was released in October 10, 2019. The survey was conducted between 2015 and 2019.

India is the first country to launch National Program for Control of Blindness in 1976. The aim of the program is currently to reduce the blindness prevalence to 0.3% by 2020.

Key findings of the report

  • Cataract is the leading cause of blindness in people above 50 years. OF these around 93% of blindness cases and 96.2% of visual impairment cases are avoidable
  • The prevalence of blindness in India is 1.99%. Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh has the highest population suffering from blindness. Around 3.67% of the district are blind and 21.82% suffer visual impairment.
  • Blindness is more pronounced among illiterates as compared to literates. Around 3.23% illiterates are blind and 0.43% literates are blind
  • Also, blindness is more prevalent in rural population (2.14%) as compared to urban (1.8%)

Causes of blindness according to the report

  • The causes included
    • Aphakia – Absence of lens in the eye
    • Untreated non-infectious corneal opacity-scarring of cornea
  • Cataract related surgical complication was the second highest cause for blindness.
  • The outcomes of cataract surgery are not good everywhere. Around 40% of cataract were done in government facilities. Rest of the surgeries took place in private and non – profit facilities. Of these, only 57.8% saw good visual outcome.
  • Cost was the biggest barrier in accessing cataract surgeries. Around 22.1% of blindness was caused because of cost as a barrier.
  • Around 22.1% of blindness were caused due to lack of awareness