KINDLY NOTE: This MEDIA RELEASE is from the Australian Consulate, Chennai.
The Australian Consulate-General in Chennai today announced its support to expand a vision screening program for disadvantaged school children currently conducted in Chennai to seven other cities in South India.
The announcement was made during the visit of the Australian High Commissioner to India, Mr Patrick Suckling, to the Government AdiDravidar Welfare Higher Secondary School at Palavakkam, Chennai. Mr Suckling was at the school to inspect the vision screening program funded by the Australian Consulate-General in Chennai and to distribute free spectacles to children suffering from refractive errors.
The vision screening program, supported through a grant from the Consulate- General’s Direct Aid Program is being led by the India Vision Institute (IVI) - a joint initiative of the LV Prasad Eye Institute of Hyderabad and Brien Holden Vision Institute in Sydney, Australia. Under the program around 4000 disadvantaged children between the ages of 4 and 15 years from selected schools in Chennai and its suburbs will have their vision screened and students diagnosed with refractive errors will be provided free spectacles to reduce the prevalence of visual impairment.
“I am pleased that this program, supported by the partnership between Indian and Australian optometrists and by the Consulate-General, will be rolled out to several other cities in South India” said Mr Suckling. “The vision screening initiative is already helping several disadvantaged children in Chennai to overcome their visual impairment and now children in other parts of South India will also benefit from this initiative”.
In addition to Chennai, the project will now be rolled out to socio-economically disadvantaged children in Coimbatore, Kanyakumari, Puducherry, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Calicut and Cochin. A total of nearly 4200 school children will have their vision screened in these cities over the next year.
“Rural India has over 10 crore people who need a pair of glasses but don’t have access to it” said Mr Vinod Daniel, CEO India Vision Institute. “This support from Australia will make a difference to a number of children from economically disadvantaged communities in South India to see better and in the process learn better”. IVI is focused on supporting and promoting awareness, research, education and technological development in Indian optometry to advance capacity in vision correction and prevention of blindness. IVI has recently launched a national campaign: “Eye See I Learn” to provide spectacles to disadvantaged school children.
For further information, contact Ms Sukanya Ramanujan, Public Diplomacy Manager, at Sukanya.Ramanujan@dfat.gov.au or on + 91 44 4592 1300.