A public campaign that seeks to promote eye health care among people in Uttar Pradesh and is supported by legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan, is all set to be intensified after its eight-week pilot project in five districts of the state bore good results, an Australia-based foundation said.
‘See Now’ campaign was launched in June with pilot in Lucknow, Lakhimpur Kheri, Rae Bareilly, Unnao and Sitapur districts. “We are truly honoured that megastar Amitabh Bachchan agreed to become the face of this important campaign. And, we aggressively use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp to reach out to as many people as possible, besides printed literature. And, Bachchan’s face on that has made a difference,” a senior official of Fred Hollows Foundation said.
The Australia-based foundation was started in 1993 by doctor Fred Hollows and currently operates in 27 countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Vietnam, Malaysia, Suriname and Indonesia, said Nick Martin, director of public affairs at the foundation.
“During the pilot period, through pamphlets bearing messages delivered by Amitabh Bachchan or the video featuring him, we have been able to reach out to people, both patients and their families, with the primary focus of urging them to get the eyesight checked,” he said.
“And, now we are going to intensify this campaign possibly by December this year and going to give to a more formal shape. The results of that should start coming by next February,” he added.
The ‘See Now’ campaign is funded by The Fred Hollows Foundation and in part by Essilor Vision Foundation, and in partnership with Sightsavers India and Vision2020 India, among others.
The India Vision Institute (IVI), a not-for-profit trust that works in the field of eye care, has also decided to join hands with the foundation to strengthen the campaign, CEO of IVI Vinod Daniel said.
Martin and Daniel, both Australia-based, recently also met senior officials of the Uttar Pradesh government in Lucknow to seek support.
“The campaign, besides raising awareness on eye care also aims to put together all stakeholders and connect them so that people can raise their knowledge or get eyesight checked or seek treatment at the earliest,” Martin said.
He said during the pilot phase, the team found out that many people were not going for eye testing because “they thought it was a curse”.
“Vision problems are extremely common in India. Currently about 550 million Indians have serious vision problems which affect their families, their work and their quality of life,” Bachchan had said in his campaign message after the launch.
“It really is so simple to avoid a lot of different sorts of blindness,” he had said.
“Amitabh Bachchan hails from Uttar Pradesh and wears glasses, so he telling people to go get eyesight checked really gets heard,” Martin said.