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World Braille Day: India eager to control blindness
According to an estimate, India houses the world's largest number of blind people. About one-third of the blind people live in India. Around 75 per cent of these cases of blindness in our country are avoidable. However, we have an acute shortage of optometrists and donated eyes for the treatment of corneal blindness, the major cause of blindness.

The Union health ministry has initiated a national programme to control blindness and hopes to reach its blindness elimination target before the WHO deadline of 2020.

"National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) was launched in the year 1976 as a 100% Centrally Sponsored scheme with the goal to reduce the prevalence of blindness from 1.4% to 0.3%. As per Survey in 2001 - 02, prevalence of blindness is estimated to be 1.1%.  Rapid Survey on Avoidable Blindness conducted under NPCB during 2006-07 showed reduction in the prevalence of blindness from 1.1% (2001-02) to 1% (2006-07). Various activities/initiatives undertaken during the Five Year Plans under NPCB are targeted towards achieving the goal of reducing the prevalence of blindness to 0.3% by the year 2020," announces the Union Health Ministry in its website npcb.nic.in.

The World Braille Day (WBD) on January 4 celebrates the life and achievements of Louis Braille, who invented the Braille code for the visually impaired. Braille is a code that uses bumps and indentation on a surface to represent alphabets and letters and can be recognized by touch.

It is an annual event to focus on the problems of global blindness and raise public awareness around the world about the prevention and treatment of loss of vision as well as protect the rights of the blind.

The World Blind Union (WBU) has urged the global community that blind or partially sighted are empowered to participate on an equal basis in any aspect of life they choose and make the world a better place for them. According to WBU, we need to eliminate prejudice towards the blind and disabled people by dealing with specific issues such as technology, mobility and transportation.

WBU has consultative status within the UN Agencies. World Health Organisation is of view that eighty percent of all cases of blindness can be prevented or treated; the right to sight can and must be fulfilled.

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