February 7, 2018

A moment of crowning glory and global challenges for Sankara Nethralaya’s head of contact lens department

When winning awards and accolades become a matter of habit and recognition knocks the door at regular intervals, keeping track and giving an account of the same becomes a challenge by itself as the following report would indicate.

We are thrilled to share that the IACLE global member newsletter has just broken the great news that Dr Rajeswari Mahadevan has been elected as a member of the ‘Executive Board’, of the International Association of Contact Lens Educators’ IACLE, the highest forum of the global body dedicated to education and safe usage of Contact Lens.

It has been a remarkable journey in the field of her passion for Dr. Rajeswari Mahadevan, the Head of Sankara Nethralaya’s Contact lens department and Assistant Professor at the Elite School of optometry, with milestones embellishing every insightful length of her travel; the 2nd Indian to be awarded a doctorate in optometry and the first to be awarded so in the field of contact lens, she went on to become a Fellow of the Scleral Lens Education Society, was  recognized as the ‘Contact Lens Educator of the Year’ by the International Association of Contact Lens Educators’ (IACLE) which was followed by a Fellowship by the prestigious American Academy of Optometry (AAO). If being chosen as the ‘Asia Pacific Regional President of IACLE’ in year 2016 came as a challenge for taking awareness levels, education and best practices on safe contact lens usage to the next stage, the premium body electing her as a member of the ‘Executive board’ is a strong testimonial to her work as the Asia Pacific Region President and an invite to duplicate it at the global level!

Let us join hands in a thunderous applause for the high level of awareness and understanding on contact lens and its usage that Dr Rajeswari Mahadevan has been creating among users and practitioners and the pride and prestige that she has been steadily bringing to the institution and on herself.

Critical findings on primitive tribal community win high honour for Sankara Nethralaya’s Social Worker

The ‘Social Worker’ plays a key role in any healthcare institution, his contribution in terms of analysing economic, social, cultural and life style factors that contribute to health impairments and the social/economic impact of various health ailments is invaluable to clinicians and researchers. The Social Worker helps in educating and counselling the public at large on the preventive and treatment aspects of diseases and provides useful tips on healthy living. In an ophthalmic institution like Sankara Nehralaya, with a strong societal responsibility, emphasis on research and creating social consciousness the role of the ‘Social Worker’ assumes great importance, he/she acts as a bridge between the target groups in terms of mobilizing and educating volunteers for a research study or those about to undergo comprehensive eye examination in a rural eye camp etc.

Shri G.Venkatesan who serves as a social worker at the ‘ Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology’ at the Kamalnayan Bajaj Institute for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the research arm of Sankara Nethralaya, discharges the above functions effectively and often contributes to studies conducted by the department.

We take great pride that and pleasure in sharing that his recent study and findings of the social, health and occupational aspects of a highly secluded and insulated tribal community living in one of the most remote regions of the country has come for great praise and recognition. Shri Venkatesan’s findings on the above titled “Maternal and Child health among Kurumbas of Nilgris District of Tamil Nadu: A Sociological study” was honoured with a ‘Doctorate in Sociology’ by the University of Madras. Shri Venkatesan was guided and assisted in this major study by Dr.M.Thamilarasan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, University of Madras. The Doctorate was conferred on him by Shri KP.Anbalagan, Honourable Minister for Higher Education, Tamil Nadu in the August presence of  Professor P.Duraisamy, Vice-Chancellor, Madras University and  Shri Sunil Paliwal, IAS, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Higher Education, at the 159th annual Convocation held at the University Centenary Auditorium, Chepauk, Chennai on the 15th of July 2017.

While the doctoral submission is exhaustive and voluminous we take pleasure in sharing some glimpses of the same

  • Illiteracy remains the biggest cause of backwardness in the region
  • Reproductive health issues and anaemia is prevalent among women
  • Skin diseases are wide spread among children
  • Drinking water is found to contain toxic substances in many places

On the positive side it could be said that the tribal community is largely self supporting and self sufficient as they produce all the agricultural and meat produce they consume, living in a totally unpolluted environment, covering long distances on mountainous terrain by foot and physical labour keep them in good health. The level of awareness on maternal and child health was also found to be reasonably good, considering the remoteness of the region and most child births happen at home with the help of the local mid-wife, with only complex cases being referred to the local maternity centre. The work of the state/central governments and NGO’s has resulted in a good number of tribal children attending school and the issue of anaemia is being addressed by dispensing of iron supplement to expectant women.