Although medical college hospitals have been established in different districts, the long-standing shortage of doctors in Bengal is not to be met! That shortage, especially the shortage of specialist doctors and surgeons, has become clear in response to a query from the health department. The number of eye surgeons in the state government is less than 300. The health department recently asked various medical colleges who can perform cornea grafting or keratoplasty among them. None of the 300 eye surgeons came forward spontaneously to the dismay of the health workers and said that he knew keratoplasty. That is to say, at the moment there is no surgeon in the state health department who knows cornea grafting!
Between 2016 and 2022, eye banks were to be introduced in seven medical colleges in the state. Only two colleges have been introduced. Eye banks are to be started in four more places between 2022 and 2024. They are also lying in twenty feet waters. Because of the lack of cornea surgeons and optometrists. That’s why it was needed to know which surgeons can do corneal grafting. But the health department is seeing lightning signals as not a single person wants to identify himself as a cornea surgeon. The tendency to not want to work with responsibility and to not work at all is believed to be responsible for this.
As soon as such a faded picture came up in response to the inquiry, an order was issued to send the names of two out of eight medical colleges, i.e. a total of 16 eye surgeons. It was informed that in the first two phases, eight of them will be given two weeks training in keratoplasty surgery. There will be more and more training from time to time, so that in the future no surgeon can say that he does not know cornea grafting. It will also speed up the process of introducing stuck eye banks. So far, the training of eight surgeons has been completed.
Plans of eye banks
Between 2016 and 2022, there were plans to launch eye banks in Bankura, Burdwan, North Bengal, Midnapore, Malda, Murshidabad and SSKM. But it could not be done in any college except Murshidabad in 2021 and SSKM this year. The two oldest eye banks are the Atulballav Eye Bank of Nilratan Medical College and the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology (RIO) on the premises of Calcutta Medical College. In Atulballav, cornea grafting is practically closed. Eye Bank is to be opened in National, Kalyani JNM, RG Kar and Kochbihar Medical College by 2024.
The state needs at least 12,000 corneas a year. But in 2021-22, only 2166 corneas have been collected in Bengal, both in the public and private sectors. 1392 of them have been utilized. That means only 64% of the total cornea has been used.
Anil Ghata, head of eye department and eye bank of Murshidabad Medical College, has been appointed as the nodal officer to launch new eye banks in the state. He is inspecting the site of the proposed eye banks.