District admin sets its sight on increasing eye donations

Sep 03, 2014, 06:53 IST | Priyankka Deshpande

Already ranked second in the state for cornea collections and transplants, Pune district’s administration hopes to become number one with its new awareness campaign

Most would agree that Pune already does its fair share when it comes to eye donations, with the district ranking second in Maharashtra for cornea collections. However, the district administration has its sights set higher, on the number one position currently held by Mumbai.

Eye checkupThe social welfare department hopes to make an emotional appeal to citizens by screening interviews with people who can finally see after receiving a donated eye. Pic/Thinkstock

Of the total 7,653 corneas collected in the state in the period 2013-2014, 1,819 were collected in Pune district alone, along with 586 cornea transplants. Mumbai fared still better, with 2,532 collections and 663 transplants. In an attempt to surpass Mumbai, the social welfare department plans to go the extra mile to create awareness among more people in the city.

Urban targets
The administration will primarily target urban populations, as the mortality rate is far higher in urban regions. “Response to appeals for eye donations is far higher from populations in urban areas than from rural populations for the same reason,” said the District Social Welfare Officer, Sanjay Kadam.

The department’s first point of approach will be new hoardings placed at crematoriums in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. “The hoarding will be placed on pilot basis. The reason we selected crematoriums to spread awareness is because that’s the place where we would be able to connect with people emotionally, through the messages that we are planning to write,” said Kadam.

He added that moviegoers would also be targeted with videos of interviews with beneficiaries who are finally able to see with the help of donated eyes. “The impact of these interviews would be much greater on the minds of people than informative video clips on eye donation,” he said.

However, the task ahead will not be as easy as it sounds, said Kadam. Adding that the administration would have to battle both financial constraints, as well as religious barriers.

“There are no funding arrangements from the state government for such experimental projects. However, we are collaborating with an NGO that will support us financially for this initiative,” Kadam said.

While the hoardings should go up at the crematoriums in a fortnight, Kadam mentioned that the department will stay clear of cemeteries in the city, as officials have been advised that placing the hoarding there could hurt the sentiments of certain religious communities.

The same communities often refused eye donations because they believed it would amount to desecrating the deceased’s body. To reach out to them, as well as others, hoardings would also be displayed in gardens, bus stands, and railway stations, said Kadam.

The number of corneas donated in Pune district in the past year

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