Ministry addresses rising cases of vision loss in Afghanistan

Taliban-led Ministry of Public Health reported on Sunday an alarming annual rate of nearly 25,000 people losing their vision due to various diseases in the country.

The ministry said that at least 80 percent of individuals affected by vision-related diseases have received treatment in public hospitals.

October 15 is marked as White Cane Safety Day, shedding light on the challenges faced by individuals with visual impairments.

Despite the efforts, people suffering from blindness still contend with an uncertain future.

Sayed Mohammad Yazdan, a 35-year-old Afghan, shared his personal journey of losing his vision at the age of eight due to a disease. Remarkably, Yazdan went on to graduate from the journalism faculty in the northern province of Balkh. He called upon the relevant government departments now under the Taliban’s administration to provide essential facilities and support to individuals affected by blindness.

Yazdan stressed the importance of launching awareness programs for teachers in schools, equipping them with skills in Braille to better educate visually impaired students. Furthermore, he called upon the Taliban to create job opportunities for people with disabilities.

Among the primary challenges faced by individuals with disabilities, especially those who are blind, are the lack of accessible health facilities, educational resources, employment opportunities, and equitable treatment, as well as poverty and dire economic conditions.

The Association of Blind People in Balkh has urged the Taliban and other aid organizations to offer support to those facing disabilities. Abdul Rahim Safa, the head of the association, emphasized the need for the voices of the visually impaired to be heard, citing instances of individuals with Ph.D. degrees from various countries who are blind. The association has also called upon the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to extend its support to the blind population in Afghanistan.

As per figures by the Taliban-run Ministry of Public Health, an estimated 600,000 people in Afghanistan struggle with blindness, while at least 1.5 million others are affected by eye diseases.