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The Telegraph
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Funds crunch hits surgeries

Dhubri, Feb. 20: Cataract surgery has not been done in Dhubri civil hospital since September last year because of inadequate funds sanctioned for surgeries by the state unit of the National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) despite having infrastructure and eye surgeons in the district.

As a result, the number of untreated patients has gone up. As estimated by the Dhubri district unit of the programme, there are nearly 10,000 cataract patients who need immediate surgery.

A source in the hospital said in Dhubri district said there were seven eye surgeons and in addition to this two ophthalmic surgeons had also been appointed on contract under the National Rural Health Mission who had been drawing Rs 1 lakh each as salary but sitting idle.

There is a 10-bed eye unit in the hospital. A source said facilities and infrastructure are also available for eye patients in some of the community health centres in the district which could be utilised for surgeries if some of the eye surgeons are posted there.

Two ophthalmic surgeons are posted at Chapar community health centre and Hatsinghimari sub-divisional civil hospital where no facilities are available as a result of which their services could not be utilised.

The Dhubri district programme manager of the NPCB, Monoj Roy, said because of inadequate funds sanctioned by the state-level of the programme, not a single surgery has been done since September last year.

Echoing similar reasons, Dhubri joint director of health services Dr K.K. Choudhury said: “District level of the NPCB has to spend Rs 800 to Rs 1,000 to purchase medicines and consumables for cataract surgery of a patient from a wholesale medicine market. So, how is the surgery possible with only Rs 450 sanctioned by the state-level NPCB?”

At a conference held on January 29, officials of Dhubri joint director of health services and Dhubri district unit of the NPCB brought to the notice of the state-level NPCB officials sanctioning of inadequate funds for cataract surgery and urged them to increase the amount, an official source said.