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Ophthalmologists urged to create a balance between High-tech and Community Ophthalmology.

South Asia is a poor region with rich history. Our contributions to economy are very little and majority of the population is illiterate. It is an extremely resourceful but poorly managed area, hence mutual assistance was needed among the SAARC countries. We need to make concerted efforts to improve standard of patient care in the region, enhance undergraduate and postgraduate medical education besides promoting research. This was stated by Prof. Saleh Memon, a well-known ophthalmic Surgeon and Director Projects and Research, Isra Ophthalmic Research and Development Center, Al Ibrahim Eye Hospital Isra Postgraduate Institute of Ophthalmology. He was delivering his inaugural address at the 13th Congress of SAARC Academy of Ophthalmology held at Karachi from August 18-21st 2016.

Organized by Ophthalmological Society of Pakistan the conference attracted a large number of ophthalmic surgeons from all over the country and delegates from SAARC countries. About half a dozen delegates from India who got the Visa at the last minute, also managed to come to the conference and enrich its scientific contents due to the untiring efforts of the organizers.

Continuing Prof. Saleh Memon said that these conferences also help improve patient care to a great extent as it provide an excellent opportunity to the delegates to enhance their knowledge, share their experience with colleagues. In order to encourage research in ophthalmology, we need basic data and human resources to publish our work because unless it is documented and published in peer reviewed journals, no one is going to accept it what we are doing. Giving details of the human resource in ophthalmology in the region, Prof. Saleh Memon said that there are 17,568 ophthalmic surgeons, 4,886 optometrists, 510 Eye care centers with facilities for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and training and thirty two centers for sub-specialty training. He laid emphasis on creating equilibrium in eye care and social justice so that everybody should get equal opportunities. None of the countries in this region is a social welfare State.

Problems of common people are often forgotten by the State and it has been left to the healthcare professionals to look after them. It is our responsibility to educate the politicians.

Community ophthalmology, Prof. Saleh Memon remarked, was extremely important, hence he urged the ophthalmologists to create a balance between high tech and community ophthalmology. Unfortunately in this congress, community ophthalmology has not been given due place which it deserve. Since over 75% of the population in this region has to pay medical treatment cost out of their own pocket, it has created a very dangerous situation due to poverty. He further stated that while we are having here the SAARC Ophthalmic Conference, at the same time there is another international conference being held in the city on Diabetes and we all know that diabetic retinopathy was an important cause of preventable blindness. It is unfortunate that none of our eye surgeons are there in the diabetes conference and none of the Diabetologists are here in the eye conference. We need to set our priorities right and give more time to community ophthalmology at such conferences.

Continuing Prof. Saleh Memon said that disease scenario was changing. Cataract remains an important cause of preventable blindness and it accounts for 0.6% while Diabetic Retinopathy was also responsible for 0.6% of preventable blindness. Hence, we need to diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy early to save people from becoming blind. While some people discuss diabetic retinopathy at forums, I myself is married to Diabetic Retinopathy, he remarked.

Earlier Prof. Daud Khan Patron of the SAARC Ophthalmic Congress said that SAARC Academy of Ophthalmology was unique as it brings together ophthalmologists from eight countries in this region which is almost 21% of the whole world population. We face enormous challenges. We have rich culture, rich history and hardworking intelligent people. Let us work together under the umbrella of SAARC for Peace, Progress and Prosperity of the Region and success of this conference.

Prof. Mrs. Ava Hussain from Bangladesh who was the Guest of Honour at the conference in her speech on this occasion said that she was delighted to share the success story with his colleagues. At such academic events, we come to know the global scenario and it leads to greater fellowship among the ophthalmologists.

Prof. Idrees Adhi, President of Ophthalmological Society of Pakistan and Congress President in his speech thanked for dedicating the conference to his uncle late Mr. Abdul Sattar Adhi who wanted to live even after his death, hence he donated his both eyes. I myself and Dr. Akhtar Jamal transplanted these eyes to the deserving patients soon after his death, hence he continues to serve even after his death. We need to create an Eye Bank in Pakistan for which we need to create awareness and educate the public about its importance. At present Ophthalmological Society of Pakistan, Prof. Idrees Adhi opined, was not doing enough in this regard and we need to do much more to realize this dream.

Continuing Prof. Idrees Adhi said that every conference helps to improve patient care. Lot of changes are taking place in the field of ophthalmology and we should be mindful of the academic challenges ahead. He commended the efforts of Dr. Tariq Aziz and his team in organizing the congress and said that it was Hyderabad which took the lead to establish an Institute of Ophthalmology. We need to establish similar institutes of Ophthalmology in Karachi and other major cities as well. Our main problem was research and unless we publish our research work, no one is going to accept what we were doing. He called upon the ophthalmologists to concentrate more on research and come up with more and more research publications, Randomized Clinical Trials (RCTs) and give due importance to academic research work. Pharmaceutical industry need to help the healthcare professionals in promoting research activity so that we can promote research culture in the country.

Prof. P. S. Maher Chairman of the Scientific Committee gave details of the scientific programs which was spread over forty scientific sessions, numerous courses and symposia featuring national and international speakers.

Earlier Prof. Tariq Aziz, President Ophthalmological Society of Pakistan Karachi and Chairman of the organizing committee of the congress in his welcome address paid tributes to late Mr. Abdul Sattar Adhi and dedicated this conference to him. He also requested the audience to give the late social worker a standing ovation and offer Fateha for the departed soul who created history in social services by establishing world's largest Ambulance Service and had done a lot to serve the humanity which has been recognized nationally and internationally. He termed Mr. Abdul Sattar Adhi as the "Richest Poor Man". He also thanked the delegates from the SAARC countries and particularly the Indian delegates who managed to travel to Pakistan to attend the congress despite getting visa at the last minute. He also appreciated the help and assistance by the Sri Lankan Eye Bank.

The organizers also announced four SAARC Gold Medals which were presented to Prof. Raj Vardhan from India, Prof. Ava Hossain from Bangladesh, to Prof. P.S. Maher from Pakistan and Dr. Sanduk Ruit from Nepal.
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Publication:Pulse International
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Date:Sep 15, 2016
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