C-CAMP partners with ACT For Health to strengthen Comprehensive Eye Care - Asha Kirana initiative of Govt of Karnataka

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C-CAMP partners with ACT For Health to strengthen Comprehensive Eye Care - Asha Kirana initiative of Govt of Karnataka

Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms, India’s leading technology and innovation hub in the bio sciences, announces a partnership with Govt of Karnataka’s Health and Family Welfare Department and ACT For Health, towards implementing a ‘Comprehensive Eye Care Programme for Karnataka using Innovative, Indigenous Health Technology’. ACT, a venture philanthropy platform, is supporting this initiative through its healthcare vertical by providing funding of INR 5.7 Crore for 2024. The programme is expected to impact 8-9 Lakh of the underserved population across 8 districts in Karnataka. It aligns with the Karnataka State vision care program, Asha Kirana under National Health Mission’s National Programme for Control of Blindness & Visual Impairment, NPCBVI, to implement ophthalmic devices that utilize digital solutions and cloud-based technology to eradicate preventable blindness in a wide age group from 5-80 years. 
Additionally, this programme will support eye care for all public transport personnel through screening and eye checkups with provision of free spectacles for vision correction. Aptly termed as Sarige Asha Kirana, it positively impacts the public safety of nearly 1.1 Crore daily commuters of Karnataka’s public transport. 
The Programme was launched by Hon’ble Health Minister, Govt. of Karnataka, Shri Dinesh Gundu Rao in the presence of Hon’ble Transport Minister, Shri Ramalinga Reddy and C-CAMP Director-CEO, Dr Taslimarif Saiyed, along with Sandeep Singhal, Board Member, ACT Capital Foundation at Vikas Soudha, Bengaluru, today. Speaking at the launch, Shri Dinesh Gundu Rao said, “ The Asha Kirana Programme has been launched across the state with the aim of raising awareness and delivering eye care to people at their doorstep. In an effort to enhance this initiative, the Health Department is collaborating with C-CAMP and ACT For Health to implement a comprehensive eye care programme utilizing innovative, digital health technologies. As part of this expansion, the scheme is now being extended to cover all employees of the Transport Department. 
Primary health centers, community health centers, taluk hospitals, and bus depots across the state are being equipped to conduct improved eye screening for refractive errors and retinopathies. Alongside these check-ups, free spectacles will be provided to the public, underscoring the Health Department's commitment to the well-being of all those serving the public including within the Transport Department. With the aim of eradicating blindness in Karnataka, over 1 crore individuals have already undergone eye checkups, with 39,000 benefiting from free cataract surgeries, and 2.45 lakh people benefiting from free spectacles under the Asha Kirana Programme.” 
Dr Saiyed remarked, “India has a high burden of preventable blindness due to unaddressed clinical conditions. Through this project we are aiming to enhance public health infrastructure to deliver quality eye care across Karnataka and significantly reduce prevalence of preventable blindness in the age group between 5-80 years. This will be achieved through innovative screening technologies and enabling access to teleophthalmology for specialised care in rural health centres. We will work in close collaboration with the Govt. of Karnataka to implement the projects for the selected districts. We are deeply thankful for the support from ACT, a leading name in India’s social impact and philanthropy space, to help implement this ambitious project.” 
Said Krisha Mathur, Director - ACT For Health, “We are delighted to support this initiative, in partnership with the Government of Karnataka and C-CAMP, as we believe it could create lasting impact at scale by bringing cutting-edge innovations that address critical ophthalmology needs in existing primary healthcare programs in Karnataka. But what we feel will be truly catalytic is the potential this partnership holds to gather important learnings and insights on the use-case for technology-led innovation which can help strengthen India’s public healthcare system at large.”       
As per recent surveys in India, the leading causes of blindness and vision impairment include cataracts, uncorrected refractive errors, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Designed as a comprehensive programme to address gaps in eye care service delivery in Karnataka, this partnership will aim to strengthen Asha Kirana, by increasing the number of screenings for refractive errors conducted by state optometrists at primary health centers across the aforementioned four districts this year. Secondly, innovative, AI-based fundus cameras developed by Forus Health, will be deployed for teleophthalmology to help screen for all retinopathies in Bijapur, Chitradurga, Dharwad and Kolar this year. Thirdly, Sarige Asha Kirana addresses Govt. of India’s directive to screen bus drivers, conductors and technicians, under Dept. of Transport this year, to ensure eye care for public safety. An initiative of HFWS and NHM, Govt. of Karnataka, Mission Director, Dr. Naveen Bhat, IAS, said “In continuation of Karnataka’s comprehensive ophthalmology programme for national blindness control and prevention, we are happy to announce Sarige Asha Kirana. It will benefit all the public transport personnel in Karnataka including drivers, conductors, technicians and more and aims to impact nearly 1.1 Lakh beneficiaries to strengthen public safety. Our state health teams will carry out eye screening camps and provide free spectacles for vision correction at the level of each depot”
Govt. of Karnataka’s Asha Kirana has successfully screened a total of 67,76,713 individuals in FY 2022-23 from Chikkaballapura; Chamarajnagar; Haveri and Kalaburagi. The programme by NHM and HFWS, Govt. of Karnataka for FY 2023-24 will cover Chitradurga, Mandya, Raichur and Uttar Kannada with a population of 73,87,426 and will expand to further districts of Asha Kirana Programme.
Speaking on strengthening the support for the districts, Health Commissioner, Govt. of Karnataka, Randeep D, IAS said “Today we are at position where we have a greater number of specialists in the state of Karnataka and through the compulsory medical service, specialists are being inducted to serve at district and taluka hospitals. This programme bridges the gap of training, capacity building and provision of required medical equipment”
In view of the immediate need on the ground and with a view to provide latest eye care technologies, the Health Department under Principal Secretary, Health Department, Shri T K Anil Kumar, IAS has expedited these projects to support the districts going forward.

About ACT and ACT For Health

ACT is an Indian venture philanthropy platform that is built upon the premise that an entrepreneurial mindset, technology & innovation and collective action have the power to create meaningful social impact at scale. The organisation is driven by a bias for action to catalyse social change through collaboration across the board - VCs, startup founders, NGO’s, expert advisors, government stakeholders as well as the public at large. ACT For Health aims to improve access to quality and affordable healthcare in the areas of primary care, non-communicable diseases, tuberculosis and mental health by supporting digital/medtech/deeptech innovations as well as digital public goods in these spaces.

Press Coverage:

1. The Times of India: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/c-camp-partners-with-...

2. The New Indian Express: https://x.com/gadekal2020/status/1767837918641733822?s=20

3. BioSpectrum: https://www.biospectrumindia.com/news/101/24377/c-camp-partners-with-act...

4. Daily Hunt: https://m.dailyhunt.in/news/india/kannada/navasamaja-epaper-nvsamaja/ash...

5. Indiamed Today: https://indiamedtoday.com/c-camp-partners-with-act-for-health-for-compre...

Social Media Coverage:

1. X (formerly Twitter): https://x.com/CCAMP_Bangalore/status/1767904408531313062?s=20

March 13, 2024