Training of Sandhanian to alleviate corneal blindness in Bangladesh
A programme to train volunteers to collect cornea named "A National Program to Alleviate Corneal Blindness in Bangladesh" was organized by Sandhani National Eye Donation Society, Keralink International, International Federation of Eye Banks and Rotary Club of Dhaka Central at Sandhani Bhaban, Nilkhet, Dhaka. The programme was arranged for 5 days from September 27 - October 1, 2017, including day-long didactic sessions and Wet Lab practice. Sandhanians from all over the country attended this training programme.
The programme was inaugurated on 28th September 2017 at BSMMU by the Chief Guest Mohammed Nasim, Minister of Health and Family Welfare. In this programme, Professor Kamrul Hasan Khan, Vice Chancellor, BSMMU and FH Arif, District Governor, Rotarian International District-3281 were present as special guests. Prof AKM Salek, President, Sandhani National Eye Donation Society; Dr Joynal Abdin, Secretary-General, Sandhani National Eye Donation Society; Rotarian SAM Showket Hossain; Rotarian Sadat R Khan, President, Rotary Club of Dhaka Central; Shahparan Islam Probal, President, Sandhani Central Committee; Saleh Anjum Sujon, Vice President, Sandhani Central Committee and Sufian Siddique, Organizing Secretary, Sandhani Central Committee were also present at this ceremony.
Health Minister, Mohammed Nasim said, "By blood donation and posthumous eye donation activities of Sandhani is not only helping the individuals but the whole society as well. I was always with this organization in past and will be so in the future." Mahmood Farazdaghi, President, International Federation of Eye Banks, presided over the inauguration programme.
In Bangladesh, there are about half million people are blind due to corneal diseases. "The aim of this national programme is to collect corneas from the dead bodies by grief counselling to their next kin, relatives and friends. Because, every year, there are about one million people die in Bangladesh. If 2% of those corneas can be collected, we can get 40000 corneas every year," said Dr Joynal Abdin, Secretary-General, Sandhani National Eye Donation Society.
Almost18 Bangladeshi and 5 foreign faculties gave their presentations and shared their experiences about ocular diseases as well as related topics about posthumous eye donation. Among the foreign faculties, there was Douglas Furlong (CEO, Keralink International, USA); Mahmood Farazdaghi (President, IFEB), Farzan Neamati (Iran), Varsha Ved (India), and Harry Congdon (USA). Sandhani Central Committee helped Sandhani National Eye Donation Society to enlist the volunteers from all of the 21 Sandhani units.
In the sessions, several topics like an indication of corneal transplant, contraindication of the corneal collection, precautions and methods of corneal collection were elaborated for the trainees. Family motivation, religious views and barrier were also discussed among the trainees. After every session, there was discussion period where the faculties were open to the trainees to answer questions regarding cornea collection and donation. There were also Wet Lab sessions in which the trainees were demonstrated and practised eye collection from the dummy & Goats head as a specimen.
"It is an outstanding programme consisting lectures and demonstrations of highly renowned faculties and motivational speeches of the kind great woman Varsha Ved who placed light in the dark. We all promised to motivate people about donating cornea and alleviate corneal blindness," shared Ashapurna Roy, a Sandhanian from Sandhani Gonoshasthya Samaj Vittik Medical College Unit.
Another Sandhanian from Sandhani Rajshahi Medical College Unit, Nadia Tasnim quoted, "Through this programme now we all have a clear concept of the procedure of cornea collection and posthumous eye donation. The talks, sharing, and wet lab practice have inspired us to enlighten and motivate people about cornea donation. Moreover, we are really inspired about participating in posthumous eye donation. As these will pave the way towards a corneal blindness free Bangladesh."
About the objective of this programme Sufian Siddique, Organizing Secretary, Sandhani Central Committee said, "It was a great workshop to participate and get hands-on training to collect cornea which will help to give back light to the sufferers. Previously, Sandhani has played the pioneering role in motivating voluntary blood donation and hopefully, we will overcome corneal blindness very soon."
"We hope there will be more programmes like this in Bangladesh in upcoming future. It will help to eradicate corneal blindness in Bangladesh," expressed Redwan Zubayer Riad, General Secretary, Sandhani Central Committee
Prof AKM Salek, President, Sandhani National Eye Donation Society expressed his gratitude, "I would like to thank Keralink International, International Federation of Eye Banks for choosing Bangladesh and Sandhani for this programme. I would like to also thank all of the faculties and trainees for their tremendous dedication and last not the least, I want to thank from the core of my heart to Rotary Club for their support."
There were 174 trainees who did their registration and participated in the programme. All of the trainees who had completed their training properly will be certified soon and will be provided with proper instruments to collect the cornea with the consent from the donors' family by the help of the experienced technician and doctors.
At the ending session, Sandhanians along with the faculties conferred their experiences about the training and they promised that they will eradicate the corneal blindness from Bangladesh.
The writer is President (Session 2017-18) of Sandhani Central Committee