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Minister stresses on rehabilitation of blind
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 1
Mr A. Raja, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, here today said that India was committed to implementing strategies under global initiative “ Vision 2020”. “The Right to Sight” aims at preventing and controlling avoidable blindness by the year 2020 with full dedication and commitment by government agencies, he added.

Mr Raja was addressing a national conference on the Extended Decade of the Disabled and Call for Action (ESCAP), organised by the All-India Confederation of the Blind in collaboration with the Vocational Rehabilitation Training Centre for blind/disabled, Ludhiana, and the Rehabilitation Council of India North Zone at the Vocational Rehabilitation Training Centre.

The minister Raja said that it was unfortunate that India had the maximum number of blind as per the WHO. Out of the 45 million blind, nearly 7 million are in India. While 80 to 90 per cent of blindness can be prevented or cured, the remaining disabled persons are to be rehabilitated by providing support, training and vocational opportunities.

He hoped that the conference would address all issues like education, community-based rehabilitation and vocational opportunities and it was important to pay more attention to disabled youth and women.

The minister informed that while the Ministry of Health and Family and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment would continue to provide support to control blindness and rehabilitating blind persons, it would like to seek continued support of NGOs in this important endeavour. He said that he was glad that many organisations like the Vocational Rehabilitation Training Centre, Ludhiana, were dedicated towards the rehabilitation of the disabled persons and lauded Mr EM Johnson, director, VRTC, in this regard.

Mr D.S. Guru, Principal Secretary Health and Family Welfare ,Punjab, in his presidential address, said that after the adoption of the Disability Act in Punjab, the state government had embarked upon a comprehensive programme for the prevention of disability, identification, education, training, rehabilitation and integration of the disabled persons.

Mr Guru informed that the state had also reserved 3 per cent seats in service in government departments and semi-government institutions and in aided schools/colleges for disabled persons and 3 per cent reservation has also been fixed in medical and engineering institutions for disabled students.

Dr E.M. Johnson, chairperson of the Rehabilitation Council of India (North Zone) and Director/Consultant on Rehabilitation/ VRTC, stressed the need of public cooperation to lessen the suffering of the disabled people and increase their independence by reaching self-supporting status.

Mr Pedro Zurita, Secretary-General, World Blind Union, delivered the keynote address and stressed for concerted efforts for the rehabilitation of disabled persons.

Among others who addressed were Mr J.L. Kaul, general secretary, All-India Confederation of Blind, Ms Ruby Fernandez and Mr A. Raddy, vice-president, All-India Confederation of Blind.

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