Iqbal was a third standard boy in some remote village of our fanatically rising India… sort of village you see in large canvases of art galleries, mainly comprising of a half dead blood dipped sun in the horizon, crazy birds pushing hard to get the limelight in the picture perfect sunset landscape, few exhausted ‘simplicity personified’ villagers returning to their home, few ever-good cows with classical bells (the only reason I excluded buffaloes from the canvas is simply to present a clean image before my readers. Well, if you want you can add a herd of shit clad buffaloes or potty-maniac goats in your village fantasy) and last but not the least, a lot of mud huts secured by fragile fences! Here at healthlogus today we are trying to spread the message to eradicate Childhood Night Blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency, With the help of Anunoy Samanta-avid Photo Blogger fron India.
Let’s Eradicate Childhood Night Blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency
Coming back to Iqbal, he was a playful active boy residing in one of those asbestos roofed mud houses. What could be done…? His father, who worked in a sugar mill 50 miles away from them, didn’t have the slightest idea of the carcinogenic potential of asbestos. Mother spent her day in household chores and parenting her three kids plus two smelly goats. Iqbal, being the eldest of the three had learnt to share responsibilities with his mother, in the form of babysitting his youngest sister to fetching groceries for the family.
Every day after returning from his midday-meal serving school, he used to rush to field to catch up with his playing peers. As the day ended with dusk, he used to stroll back home with relatively lesser enthusiasm and sit in a corner of their veranda with uncomfortable expression, the one you see in an urban guy looking for a latrine or constipated for the seventh day! Whenever Iqbal’s mother used to order him anything after evening, he was slow to carry out the job, sometimes dropping the plate on the way or banging his head on the bamboo poles in the yard. His mother used to take this as her son’s carelessness or indirect way of telling “I don’t care, better do it yourself”. When she used to tell him to sit with his books before the hurricane lamp, Iqbal used to complain, “The light is so dim… Mother, I can’t read a single word”. He wasn’t fortunate enough to have an over-conscious, highly educated mom working in some MNC. So, his complains of the light being too dim for him brought nothing but mother’s disbelief and bashing in few occasions.
Time rolled by and Iqbal’s difficulty aggravated, without his near ones’ slightest knowledge. At night he almost used to move around in his house by counting steps like blind people. Revelations sometimes come late but they come for sure. One day he fell down and broke his crown (hey, remember that Jack and Jill rhyme?) while going to piss in the midnight. Ah don’t be so worried, it wasn’t a serious head injury of road traffic accident. So, the helpful neighbors took him to the nearby health center in the following morning. When the doctor elicited a meticulous history of Iqbal’s night-fall (no pun here!) he diagnosed the deep rooted problem… Iqbal’s vision had been compromised to severe extent. His inability to see after evening was nothing but Night Blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency. According to the doctor, it was due to long standing deficiency of Vitamin A in Iqbal’s diet. Night blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency is the first symptom to bother a child with Vitamin A deficiency and as the condition progresses (if untreated) it leads to blindness! Iqbal was fortunate to have a narrow escape from the curse of blindness by a sudden night-fall… but millions of Iqbals worldwide are not so lucky!
According to WHO studies, globally 2.5-5 lakhs of Vitamin A deficient children become blind every year and half of them die within 12 months of losing their vision! It’s (Vitamin A deficiency) the leading cause of preventable childhood blindness and a major public health problem in more than half of all countries, the soft targets being Africa and South-East Asia. Vitamin A deficiency not only causes severe visual impairment (ultimately blindness) in children but also makes them prone to myriad fatal infectious conditions. Though the supplementation of Vitamin A in immunization schedule of India since 1992 as a part of ‘Child Survival and Safe Motherhood’ program has declined the trend of Vitamin A deficiency related eye disorders in children, it’s still more or less prevalent in almost all the states of India.
WHO is doing their part in the worldwide elimination of this preventable childhood Night blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency by formulating plans to combining breastfeeding, Vitamin A supplementation and long term approaches like promotion of Vitamin A-rich diets and food fortification. But, unless each and every one of us plays our role, everything will go in vain. If you’re reading this article, I take you as one of the fortunate heads to have afforded education and current technology… so, update your knowledge about this preventable childhood blindness in internet and pass on your earnings to those in your vicinity who are not privileged enough but at a risk of suffering Night Blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency and subsequently develop blindness. Yes, being a conscious parent you’ll safeguard your kid from this menace for sure but there are hundreds other around you, like the kid of your housemaid, driver or the sweeper, who are constantly under the threat!
Encourage and facilitate the dietary intake of Vitamin A rich foods like dark-green, orange/yellowish vegetables and fruits (like Spinach, carrot, oranges, sweet potatoes, papaya, mango, pumpkin, etc), egg, whole milk, butter, cheese, fish, meat, liver etc. Look for visible features of Vitamin A deficiency in kids around you, like- dry eyes, red eyes, dry hair, dry skin, brittle nails and frequent infectious conditions. The first warning sign of Night Blindness due to vitamin A deficiency can usually be detected by the mother when the child complains of his inability to see things in dim light or night time. Whenever the warning sign is noted, appropriate medical attention is required… every time we succeed to do this simple step, we’re contributing to the eradication of this menace of Night Blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency, completely preventable childhood blindness!
With the untiring global initiatives, more than 1.25 million deaths due to Vitamin A deficiency have been prevented in 40 countries since 1998… so why are we so quiet? Let’s join hands and spread the basic knowledge about this eradicable childhood Night blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency among unprivileged mass in our society… moral of the story is, Timely diagnosis and timely seeking of medical help is the only key to win over this situation… Let us hope that each and every mother will be the first doctor to diagnose the warning sign of Vitamin A deficiency in her child and no Iqbal’s complain “Ma, is the light so dim that I can’t read a single word?” would go unnoticed.
Anunoy Samanta has been blogging since 2007, and the pen often runs out of ink, but thankfully the mystic spirit of traveling-clicking-storytelling always reconquers Anunoy before it gets too late! In his early childhood, Anunoy’s craving for backpacking was sowed by his father. He has been a rolling stone ever since, forming passionate bonds with motorcycle touring and photography to add more layers to his wander lust. Between see-sawing a small family and a thankless job, Anunoy Samanta manages to run his own photography blog- Clicking Photos on the Go. To avoid being boycotted as a dinosaur he maintains active Facebook and Twitter accounts too.