BSMMU, Orbis join hands to reduce preventable blindness

Orbis International and Department of Ophthalmology at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) will work together to reduce preventable blindness caused by Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) among premature neonates in Bangladesh.

The two organisations entered into an agreement on Tuesday to implement a project titled ‘Strengthening BSMMU – ROP Unit for Establishing ROP Resource Center in Bangladesh’ to attain the goal. 

BSMMU Department of Ophthalmology Chairman Professor Zafar Khaled and Orbis International Country Director for Bangladesh Dr Munir Ahmed signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides at BSMMU.

BSMMU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Kanak Kanti Barua, Department of Ophthalmology Professor Dr Nuzhat Choudhury and Associate Professor Dr Tariq Reza Ali, and Orbis Director of Programmes Mohammed Alauddin, Senior Medical Specialist Dr Lutful Husain, Senior Programme Manager Md Iqbal Hossain and Communications & Media Specialist Sumon Francis Gomes were present at the ceremony. After the agreement signing, Vice Chancellor Kanak Kanti Barua said the collaboration with Orbis on ROP screening and treatment service will strengthen BSMMU’s ophthalmology department. He described the agreement as a significant achievement for BSMMU in eye health service. 

The vice chancellor said BSMMU will now be the referral centre for ROP service, which will bring all the ROP centres under one umbrella. He expressed hope for more collaboration with Orbis in preventing avoidable blindness in Bangladesh in the coming days. Orbis Country Director Dr Munir called the agreement ‘historic’ in COVID-19 pandemic situation. He said the agreement has heralded a new era of ROP service delivery. 

The objectives of the project are improving quality ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) services at BSMMU; increasing access to ROP services through responsive referral network of ROP partner hospitals; enhancing capability of doctors, nurses and management of special care newborn units (SCANU) and neonatal intensive care units (NICU) at public, private and NGO-run hospitals; and creating an enabling environment to establish an ROP Resource Center at BSMMU.

The main target group is premature neonates living in both rural and urban areas of mainly Dhaka division. The other target groups include multidisciplinary health care providers, and parents of the neonates to raise awareness on ROP.

Orbis, an international non-profit non-governmental organisation dedicated to restoring vision worldwide, established the first-ever ROP screening and treatment service in Ispahani Islamia Eye Institute and Hospital in Dhaka in 2013.

The organisation took the service outside Dhaka by launching it at Dr K Zaman BNSB Eye Hospital in Mymensingh. Then it launched the ROP screening and treatment service at Chittagong Eye Infirmary & Training Complex (CEITC), Chattogram and Deep Eye Care Foundation (DECF), Rangpur.

Orbis facilitates regular visits of eye specialists to NICUs of Mymensingh Medical College Hospital and Rangpur Medical College Hospital for screening eyes of premature neonates who are at risk of developing ROP.

The organisations provide equipment (Retcam) for ROP screening at partner hospitals and trains the team in country and abroad, including conducting Hospital-Based Training (HBT) programme, where world famous Retina specialists come and provide hands-on training.

It organises regular scientific seminars on ROP for ophthalmologists and other medical professionals to aware them of the disease; and produces eye care materials for raising awareness among the people living both in rural and urban areas.