Lakhs of people who live in remote and inaccessible islands of the Sunderbans and have no access to eye care facilities can now find help in a mobile eye clinic thanks to the efforts of an international NGO.

The islands are spread over 19 blocks and for its denizens a visit to the nearest eye care centre may even take a day to reach.

The mobile eye boat clinic is therefore the best way to reach people with eye ailments, according to Sameera Ahmed, programme officer of Sightsavers, an international NGO which has launched ‘Sunderbans Eye Health Service Strengthening Project’ to provide the facility to the islanders.

The mobile eye clinic, inaugurated near Ramganga in Pathar Pratima block of South 24 Parganas district, is the first of its kind in the country, claimed the Sightsavers programme officer.

The project aims to improve coverage and access to affordable, quality eye health services to the people in the interior and inaccessible areas of Sunderbans, increase awareness and improve attitudes towards eye health in target communities, she told PTI.

The five-year-long comprehensive programme will also increase the capacity of governmental and non-governmental institutions to deliver eye health services.

Sightsavers want elimination of curable blindness and empowerment of people with disabilities, she said.

During the period the project aims to carry out around 27,000 adult cataract surgeries, 200 paediatric cataract surgeries and 200 others beyond cataract.

This apart it envisages setting up of 19 vision centres across all blocks (including 2 mobile vision centres), Ahmed told PTI.

The project would also train around 3,180 health ambassadors at village and block level, 930 trained government health workers on eye health and 98 trained government ophthalmic human resource, she added.

Sightsavers is implementing the project in Sunderbans with the support of Standard Chartered Bank, she added.