GMCH Eye Bank likely to start functioning from April this year

Govind Sharma

JAMMU, Feb 22: Good News for visually impaired people in J&K ! Now they will need not to go outside the State for eye transplantation, as once again the crucial Eye Bank is going to be opened in Government Medical College and Hospital, Jammu from next financial year, most probably from April 1.
According to official sources, the lone Eye Bank of J&K in GMC Jammu was closed down in 2008, due to lack of infrastructure back-up, as Health Ministry had failed to release funds required to build much needed infrastructure, procuring important machinery and arranging manpower including doctors and technicians.
“Since then successive Governments did not take effective and honest steps whatsoever to re-start the Eye Bank either at GMC Jammu or Srinagar but after the High Court Direction last year to ensure functioning of Eye Bank in GMC Jammu, the State Government came into action and released an amount of Rs 1.5 crore for this purpose after which hospital swung into action and since then work on the project is going on war footing so that the same may be started from April 1 this year”, sources alleged.
They informed that with the eye bank remaining closed since 2008, nearly 4000-5000 patients from J&K were visiting neighbouring states every year for corneal transplants, but soon this facility will be available in Medical College Jammu as authorities of the hospital has geared up to start this crucial facility from the next financial year.
Sources said that the civil work on the Eye Bank is underway at Jammu GMC adding that for this purpose an amount of Rs 50 lakh was provided to the GMC Jammu in March 2012-13 and Rs 1.5 cr was released in December last year while Rs 50 lakh is yet to be released by the Government.
“The construction and expansion work of the Eye Bank including operation theatre, one or two wards, related laboratory lab, doctors’ rooms, etc, is almost nearing completion”, sources maintained and adding only the work left is of procuring required machinery including microscopes, laboratory equipments, communication equipments, books, a dedicated ambulance etc and appointing required staff  including doctors and technicians.
According to the sources, a special committee has been constituted, which has been entrusted for ensuring registration of Eye Bank and early procuring of machinery, tools and necessary equipments needed for the Eye Bank. They said though the appointment of staff is a time consuming process, hospital authorities are in no mood to delay the opening of Eye Bank and have decided to start it with academic arrangement of staff once all other work related the project is completed.
When contacted, Medical Superintendent, GMCH, Dr Ravinder Ratanpal said that they cannot say exactly when the Eye Bank will be started but they are doing their sincere efforts to open the Eye Bank from April this year.