The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) has launched Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) Center to contribute to the reduction of preventable blindness.
Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Md Sharfuddin Ahmed inaugurated the center as the chief guest on Tuesday, ORBIS International that helped the university to establish the center with Peter Gilgan Foundation said in a statement.
ROP is a potentially blinding eye disease that affects premature infants and is the leading cause of blindness among children. More premature babies are being saved, but few hospitals have the skills and resources to deliver the care needed.
Eye doctors say if a baby is affected with ROP, his/her eyes must be screened and its necessary treatment must be begun within 30 days of birth, otherwise the baby can be blind.
ORBIS International, Bangladesh has already established seven ROP centers -- two in Dhaka and five in Chattogram, Mymensingh, Rangpur, Chandpur and Dinajpur districts.
The BSMMU center will work as hub for all the centers and facilities across the country to ensure access and coverage of quality ROP screening and treatment services.
The long-term objectives of the ROP center are offering quality training, standardization of screening and treatment guidelines, tele-consultation and referral services, networking with other centers, support research and acting as national hub for ROP activities in Bangladesh.
Prof Dr Mohammod Shahidullah, President of Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BMDC), Prof AHM Enayet Hussain, Director General of Directorate General of Medical Education, and Prof Dr Saif Uddin Ahmed, Pro-Vice Chancellor of BSMMU, were the special guests at the inauguration ceremony.
Dr Munir Ahmed, Country Director of Orbis International, was the guest of honor while Prof Dr Zafar Khaled, Chairman of Department of Ophthalmology of BSMMU, chaired and Dr Tariq Reza Ali of BSMMU moderated the event.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, the BSMMU vice chancellor said the university will be a teaching institute to develop human resources for other hospitals at the division/district level on ROP as the issue is emerging in the country. The BMDC president said they would be gradually opening sub-specialty under the department of ophthalmology which is currently absent.
The director general of Directorate of Medical Education advised BSMMU to conduct pilot and research on ROP issue by involving upazila health complexes, especially the SCANUs/NICUs as part of integrated intervention, and develop a sustainable model for replication.
ORBIS International country director said the organization’s priority is newborn and children and technology-based innovative approach to transform the center at BSMMU into a ‘center excellence; so that the country as a whole serve as national level hub for ROP in the country.
The chairman of Ophthalmology Department appreciated the support from all and invited others to work together towards developing a center of excellence in eye health.
According to the World Health Organization, 15 million babies are estimated to be born early each year and with pre-term birth come the risk of blindness.
The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness says 32,300 pre-term babies become permanently blind or visually impaired from Retinopathy of Prematurity every year. Over 100,000 of the children born in Bangladesh every year face the risk of blindness and may lose eyesight for the whole life unless their eyes are screened timely and they are given proper treatment.