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Blindness and Poverty


          Disability and its relationship to poverty, affect education, employment, income, and access to basic social services. It is a two-way relationship ie., disability adds to the risk of poverty and conditions of poverty increase the risk of disability. Some of the people with disabilities have lack of education and their income level is lesser than the rest of the population. Due to their lack of income, they don’t have any saving. Comparing with others, they don’t have a permeant work setting andthus it affects their livelihood. Considering the people having visually impaired, those with visual disability are at risk of losing access to some means of survival and independent living. People from socio-economically disadvantaged and oppressed communities are more likely to suffer.

           The relationship between disability and poverty became more apparent following the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2001. Identification of 'who the poor are and where they live' has become a priority for most developing countries. The lack of explicit inclusion of these groups in the MDGs and development strategies, including poverty reduction programmes, has been acknowledged.

          The United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), articulated in 2000 following a large gathering of world leaders, addresses various health aspects directly to socio-economic development and the eradication of poverty. For instance, we know that 82% of the 600 million people with disabilities worldwide live below the poverty line, 20% belongs to the "poorest of the poor"  category.

          Blindness is an important part of the disability spectrum, affecting 161 million people worldwide. Although there is little direct work linking visual impairment and socio-economic disadvantage based on the available literature, it can be assumed that there is a similar relationship between other forms of disability and poverty. This paper outlines the link between blindness and economic development.

          According to WHO, private health insurance is dominant in healthcare financing, ensure that people with disabilities are covered and considered measures to make the premiums affordable. This ensures that persons with disabilities benefit equally from public health programmes. Use financial incentives to encourage healthcare providers to make services accessible and to provide comprehensive assessment, treatment and follow-up.

          India has a significant proportion of the world's blindness and visual impairment, with nearly 6.7 million blind people while some degrees of blindness is a problem across the country, the relative magnitude of various diseases and eye conditions varies. More than three-fourths of those below the poverty line reside in rural areas, and only a small percentage of the population can afford it.

          Several studies have been conducted on the prevalence of blindness in India from 1971 to 2002. 31-34 Prevalence varies considerably across the country, but comparisons between these studies have become difficult given their different definitions of blindness. It was clear in all of these studies that blindness increased with age, was higher among the illiterate, lower in urban areas.

          Taking the case of an individual, a 42-year-old man, who is from Kerala had shared his life experience, he is suffering congestive glaucoma since childhood and it is not fully curable. His family consists of his mother, wife and daughter. He is having employment problem; he is not having a permanent job he is currently jobless now, but he is doing some part time work and he is engaged in making phenoyl. He also has other health issues and he needs money for his treatment. He had started a business few years back and it ended up in a huge loss. He is in huge debt as of now and needs financial support so he looking for jobs. The COVID-19 pandemic affected his livelihood and his age also comes as a barrier for his life when looking for a job. He says that with his 30 %of vision he can’t travel, find a job. He doesn’t get any help from the government other than pension and also he does not get his pension from last few months and he is behind that work. As a family man, he is responsible to take care of his family, daughter's education and all other expenses.


          Even though there are many job opportunities for the disabled community, not everyone is getting it properly. Many people in society still need support in order to meet their livelihood. People having disability need support from others even for their daily routines. In addition to income poverty, individuals with disabilities are also almost twice as likely to lack even modest precautionary savings in the event of unexpected costs or other financial shocks. 

          The government should ensure a safe and secure life for people with disabilities. Even though there are many schemes, rights and policies to protect people with disability, not all are following in some situations their rights are denied. They are not properly treated in society. Some people feel that they are stigmatised by society, instead of showing sympathy they need equality and empathy.

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