Developments since July 2008
Since the inauguration of the Miriam Hyman Children's Eye Care Centre on 03 July 2008 there have been over 46,500 Outpatients appointments (25% without charge) and 4,500 surgeries (50% without charge) (April 2013). Between 2010 and 2011 the percentage increase was 30% for paying Outpatients, 50% for non-paying Outpatients, 7% for paying surgical patients and 14% for non-paying surgical patients. Overall progress has therefore been significant, particularly for non-paying patients.
On the first anniversary of the inauguration of the MHCECC in 2009, the paediatric ocular oncology facility was opened. This extension of service provision at the MHCECC centralises children's eye cancer facilities, maximising convenience and minimising distress for patients and their families, who usually travel long distances to visit the Centre. Since then 60 children were treated for eye cancer. The lives of 45 of them were saved, and every child who had an eye removed to save life was cosmetically rehabilitated. Vision was restored in 36 children.
In June, 2010 a RetCam Shuttle was acquired for the MHCECC, one of only eight in India at the time. This scanner detects pathological conditions of the retina, particularly in premature and underweight babies whose retinal blood vessels are not completely formed at birth, called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). Only timely detection and laser treatment can prevent irreversible blindness. Since 2010 the MHCECC RetCam has been used to screen over 850 pre-term babies, and 230 have had their sight saved.
The mobile unit makes it possible to capitalise on the portable RetCam Shuttle, transporting it to maternity units and clinics in the district surrounding the Institute, and bringing babies and their families for the necessary laser treatment. This vehicle is also invaluable in taking optometrists with eyesight screening equipment and free glasses to children in remote rural areas and urban slums.
In 2011 the MHMT Operating Room was upgraded with an additional anaesthesia station adapted for babies and young children, resulting in a 50% increase in examinations under anaesthesia, which is important in children who are too young to obey instructions. There is a new baby warmer that enables safer, cost-cutting anaesthesia and a mounted microscopic camera with accompanying computer and software. All this has resulted in an approximate 10% increase in surgeries and other benefits.
Corneal conditions result in 4% of child blindness in India. Cornea transplant is now the treatment of choice for a carefully selected group of children, for which top quality corneal tissue is essential. This is ensured by use of the £20,000 specular microscope donated by the MHMT in 2011. An additional donation was used for specialist training and testing. Approximately 15 paediatric corneal transplants are performed every year in the MHCECC and increasing use of the microscope will lead to a higher transplant success rate.
In 2012 the MHMT donated £16,000 - the cost of a dedicated Glaucoma Unit for the scientific management of childhood glaucoma and a substantial increase in paediatric patients is now anticipated in the only reliable facility of its kind in the state of Orissa. Glaucoma is a disease where the optic nerve is progressively and irreversibly damaged by increased pressure inside the eyeball, leading to blindness. Early diagnosis and treatment is resulting in successful management.
Our current target is £50,000 to support an MHCECC consultant to receive advanced training abroad for one year. The wide-ranging benefits to the MHCECC's 500-mile catchment area will include improved service delivery, raised standards of in-house training and research, and enhancement of the Centre's international relevance.
Eyesight screening in schools, slums and rural areas is a priority. In the last year, 500 children were screened for refractive error (long- or short-sightedness) and other conditions in 11 slum schools. 35 pairs of spectacles were provided free of cost by the pupils of Copthall School, London through the MHMT.
Including our current target of £50,000, the total transferred to the MHCECC within the L V Prasad Eye Institute, Bhubaneswar, since 2008 is £365,000.
Dr Taraprasad Das, Director of the L V Prasad Eye Institute, Bhubaneswar, says: "Every time a child is treated at the Miriam Hyman Children's Eye Care Centre her memory is invoked and her spirit lives on through those children whose sight is restored in her name."
We will continue to bring you news of developments.
The MHCECC waiting room
The RetCam Shuttle
The multi-purpose mobile unit
The OR anaesthesia station
The specular microscope
Sight screening in the slums