India’s First novel E-solution with a vision to eradicate Blindness in Pre-Matured Infants
Bangaluru: Marking the occasion of the World Prematurity DayToday, the 17th of November 2015, the Health Minister of Karnataka state, Mr. U. T. Khader, inaugurated the launch of a novel E-training and service model called WISE-ROP (Wide-field Imaging of Infants for Screening and Education for Retinopathy of Prematurity).
WISE-ROP has been developed by leading eye institute, Narayana Nethralaya, Bangalore to address the challenge of inadequate number of trained specialists to screen and treat a condition that affects the vision of premature babies, called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). ROP is the leading cause of blindness in infants in the world. In India, 1 out of 3 babies born less than 2000 grams develops the disease and 10% of these babies will turn blind by the age of 2 months if not treated on time. Over 3.5 million babies are born premature in India every year and there are less than 60 ROP specialists nationwide to screen and treat this condition.
Since most of these babies are in the rural areas and do not get screened on time, Narayana Nethralaya initiated KIDROP, a tele-medicine platform to screen for ROP in rural centres of Karnataka in 2008. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Bhujang Shetty, Chairman, Narayana Nethralaya, said “We are very proud and humbled by the fact that our modelpartnered with the National Health Mission,has now been adopted for national expansion by the National Task force for ROP, and has been reported by the United Nations Development Program and Planning Commission of India as a Best Care practice. KIDROP has now become an internationally validated model, as NHMRC, Australia has studied the model using the Centre for Disease Control (CDC)Atlanta, USA,Guidelines, and recommended it even for developed countries”.
The problem with expansion of the program to other states has been the cost of the camera used to screen these babies and the lack of trained technicians to use them. WISE-ROP now intends to address both these problems. It will providea web based interactive education, training and certification platform, enabling an eco-system for creating more and more ROP technicians.
WISE-ROP is also tied up with Forus Health, who has manufactured India’s first ROP imaging camera named “Neo”, at fraction of the cost of the competitor. The Department of Biotechnology (DBT)awarded a clinical and research grant for Narayana Nethralaya to clinically validate the Neo device. Speaking at the event, Dr Anand Vinekar, Program Director of KIDROP and WISEROP said, “We have just completed the initial validation of the Neo. It appears to be both safe and easy to use on infants. It is more portable and compact than the previous imported device. The on-going trial comparing it to its American predecessor shows a very positive result. We are very encouraged that our scientific collaboration with Forus Health has received a grant from Welcome Trust, London, UK to further develop the R&D of this device”.
Dr Shyam Vasudev Rao, Managing Director of Forus Health said, “We are excited to launch this world class innovation, ‘Made in India’ to bridge social and technological gap. We are certain that our collaboration with Narayana Nethralaya and WISE-ROP will help us realize our dream of providing low-cost and state-of-the-art imaging to prevent blindness in our infants”.