Brightening lives of the underprivileged tribal population in Jharkhand

Dr Bharti Kashyap, MBBS, MS (Ophthalmology) and Fellow in Cornea, has been tirelessly working towards bringing a change in the lives of thousands of people across the State. Through the ‘Eye Donation awareness campaign’ and ‘Vision for young rural Jharkhand campaign’ she has been working towards bringing the less privileged children and youth out of darkness by organising eye-checkup-camps in the far off areas of Jharkhand, most of which are heavily naxal infested. Dr Kashyap also works in dismantling discrimination of the girl child and gender bias, while at the same time empowering women through education, raising awareness, and enabling them to take better control over their lives over the past three decades. Cervical cancer eradication campaign, started by her in the State is now erring fruits with more and more women coming out in rural areas for checkup and treatment of the deadly disease. Her endeavours during the COVID times for strengthening paediatric icus’ and black fungus help line and combating vaccine hesitancy have been hugely successful and admired by one and all. Dr Kashyap, has been a virtual change agent – enabling thousands of school dropouts to find their way back to school and making a transformative impact on the lives of women by engaging with the society and the state government, to ensure a better future for all. Her initiatives have won her accolades – Nari Shakti Puraskar 2017 and a record 5 Awards by Indian Medical Association, New Delhi, for welfare of underprivileged sections of society mainly women and children . Way back in 1991, as a fresh medical graduate, Dr Kashyap launched the first ever eye donation campaign in the then unified Bihar Jharkhand, to dispel hesitation regarding eye donation.

bharti Kashyap
Her efforts bore fruit, when in 1995, she received the first posthumous eye donation in the state. The eye donation campaign has since evolved into a movement. Dr Kashyap’s tryst with gender bias and parental negative beliefs, began in 1995, when she discovered to her dismay that high dropout rates at state run schools was closely linked to the increasing incidence of blindness in children. A sample eye screening of some 10,000 children, enrolled in state run schools confirmed her fears.
To combat high school dropout rates, Dr Kashyap began organising free eye camps in every district of Jharkhand, bringing quality eye care at the door steps of people. At every camp, she distributed free thousands of Vitamin A tablets and spectacles to men, women and children to correct refraction errors. For those needing surgical interventions, she volunteered to ferry all, to her base hospital- Kashyap Memorial Eye Hospital at Ranchi for free cataract removal.
However her Eye Camps hit a major roadblock after many parents voiced their opposition to any form of surgical intervention, alleging that eye surgeries would mar marriage prospects of their wards, particularly girls. It took Dr Kashyap, quite a while to push back this negative parental assumption. At the Eye Camps, counselling sessions were held and suspecting parents were encouraged to accompany their wards to Ranchi for the cataract surgeries. All expenses of travel and hospitalisation were borne by Dr Kashyap. At Ranchi, special programmes were organised, where children received free eye glasses from dignitaries, which helped allay fears of suspecting parents.
Thus, thousands of children who had earlier dropped out of schools, were happily back at their schools, after being provided free eye care by Dr Kashyap. Till date, she has completed eye screening of more than 20 lakh children enrolled in state run schools. In 2014, soon after being elected Chairperson, Women Doctors’ Wing, Indian Medical Association, Jharkhand, Dr Kashyap galvanised fellow women doctors to launch the first ever major offensive in Jharkhand, against Cervical Cancer, the very big killer of women, worldwide by organising a series of Mega Women Health Camps, throughout the rural areas and in State run Sadar Hospitals of Jharkhand focusing on Cervical Cancer detection and colposcopy guided cryo treatment, at the camp sites. In her camps all diagnosed cervical pre cancers were cured by Colposcopy guided Cryo treatment. Due to her efforts 12 big government hospitals across Jharkhand are equipped with digital colposcope and Cryo set.
Apart from screening , at all Mega Health camps women were educated on, anaemia, personal hygiene, tobacco use, and all high risks for cervical cancer. Women were trained to look out for early warning signs of cervical pre cancer – repeated genital infections, post Coital and post menopausal bleeding, lower abdominal and back pain etc.
Inspired by her work, Smt.Droupadi Murmu, currently President of India and the then Governor of Jharkhand, took the initiative to equip 6 state run Sadar Hospitals located in predominately tribal districts, with cervical cancer screening and treatment equipments. Her Excellency, has also been pleased to pledge her eyes with the Kashyap Memorial Eye Bank, Ranchi.
In 2021 Dr Bharti Kashyap successfully convinced the state government to agree to her proposal of evolving an easier to implement Jharkhand model, modifying the 3rd part of WHO strategy of cervical cancer eradication. The health department has now directed combining breast and cervical cancer eradication efforts, mandatory screening of 6% women in the reproductive age group, who have suggestive symptoms or from high risk category. Between April 2021 and March 2022, for the first time in Jharkhand 1,27,000 women, roughly 50% out of the intended target of 2,70,000 were screened for cervical pre cancer.
The Jharkhand Model is expected to evolve as the gold standard in Cervical Cancer eradication.

Area Of Work Done
  1. 31 YEARS OF CONTINUED EFFORTS IN THE FIELD OF EYE DONATION: Since 1991 after launching first ever eye donation campaign in the then unified Bihar Jharkhand, she is continuously working in this field to dispel hesitation regarding eye donation through yearly marathons involving youth of Jharkhand, regular essay and painting competitions on eye donation theme among schools children and awareness programs involving priests of different religions.

    During covid times she initiated innovative Digital Eye donation awareness and involved more than ten thousand students and found out digital platform is as effective as print and electronic media. She also found out that a high percentage of people are aware of eye donation but they are not willing to do this. She tried to inspire the students, youth power of Jharkhand through multiple webinars.

  2. RESTORING CHILDHOOD TO CHILDREN: Dr Kashyap, for the past 27 years, has been organising free Eye Camps across Jharkhand. Dr Kashyap, screened 20 lakhs government school going children for cataract, night blindness, refractive errors and also parents, did free distribution of thousands of eye glasses and Vitamin A tablets, children in need of surgery were operated free by her and sent back to schools.
  3. HUMAN RESOURCES BUILDING: Dr Kashyap, in association with Jharkhand Shiksha Pariyojana, has trained thousands of government school teachers in primary vision testing thus enabling creation of a pool of trained manpower to stop children from opting out of schools. Oncogynaecologists from Kolkata and New Delhi were roped in to train government sector gynaecologists.
  4. EMPOWERING WOMEN: Since 2015, Dr Kashyap has been empowering rural women, by organising Women Health Camps throughout Jharkhand, educating them on anaemia, genital hygiene, signs and risk factors of cervical pre cancer stressing on the need to take better care of themselves.
  5. SPEARHEADING CERVICAL CANCER ERRADICATION: Dr Kashyap, in association with the state health department, has been spearheading Jharkhand’s battle against Cervical Cancer, by organising free Cervical Cancer Detection and precancer colposcopy guided cryo treatment Camps throughout Jharkhand and in the state run Sadar Hospitals. Oncogynaecologists from metro cities were also roped in to train government gynaecologists to lend more teeth to the cervical cancer eradication campaigns.
  6. Due to her efforts 12 big government hospitals across Jharkhand are equipped with digital colposcope and Cryo set.

  7. JHARKHAND MODEL FOR CERVICAL CANCER ERRADICATION: Dr Kashyap has facilitated evolving the first ever “JHARKHAND MODEL”and state government accepted her suggestions for making  compulsory  screening of 6 percent women in reproductive age with suggestive symptoms or high risk category ,all  pregnant women, turning up at State hospitals. Between April 2021 and March 2022, for the first time in Jharkhand, has already screened 1,27,000 women, roughly 50% out of the intended target of 2,70,000.
Impact/Outcome of the work Done
  1. BREAKING TABOO OF EYE DONATIONS: In 1991, as a fresh graduate, Dr.Kashyap launched the first ever eye donation campaign in the then unified Bihar Jharkhand, to dispel hesitation regarding eye donation. Her small efforts bore fruit, when in 1995, she received the first posthumous eye donation in the state. Over the past 20 years, yearly Run for Vision, Blindfolded Marathon organised by her have turned the campaign into a movement. She uses digital platform too for eye donation awareness. Every year her eye bank is doing more than 100 cornea transplantations.
  2. RESTORING CHILDHOOD, ENABLING SCHOOL DROP OUTS TO FIND THEIR WAY BACK TO & SCHOOLS: Dr Kashyap has screened 20 lakh government school children in Jharkhand,has cured thousands of children from undetected cataracts, refraction errors, squints, lazy eyes, night blindness, eye injuries etc. Thousands of children, earlier forced to drop out of schools have gone back to their schools.
  3. ENABLING A CERVICAL CANCER FREE JHARKHAND: Dr Kashyap has facilitated evolving the first ever “JHARKHAND MODEL” to combat cervical cancer., whereby the state government has accepted her suggestions to combine cervical cancer and breast cancer eradication efforts, compulsorily screening of all pregnant women, turning up at State hospitals, for ante natal check ups, with an annual target to screen at least 6 percent women in reproductive age group.
    Between April 2021 and March 2022, Jharkhand has screened 1,27,000 women, around 50% of intended target of 2,70,000 women in the reproductive age group with suggestive symptoms or from high risk category, thus enabling Jharkhand to evolve as the first Cervical Cancer free state.
  4. SAVED THOUSANDS OF WOMEN FROM CERVICAL CANCER: Mega Women Health Camps focussing on free treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease and anaemia, detection and treatment of cervical pre cancer at camp sites, during the past 8 years, has brought quality healthcare facilities to the needy,helping save thousands of lives. Due to her efforts.
  5. 12 big government hospitals across Jharkhand are equipped with digital colposcope and Cryo set.

  6. HUMAN RESOURCE BUILDING:She has trained thousands of school teachers working in government schools on primary vision testing,detection of cataracts, Vitamin A deficiency etc. She has helped rope in expert onco-gynaecologists from Kolkata and Delhi to provide training to government sector gynaecologists on early detection and treatment of pre cervical cancer. 
Other Relevant Information
  1. FACILITATING CAPACITY BUILDING OF PEDIATRIC INTENSIVE CARE UNITS OF STATE HOSPITALS DURING COVID TIMES: During the pandemic years,  Dr Kashyap joined hands with the Jharkhand Health Department to facilitate online training by specialist doctors from University of California at Los Angeles, University of Texas and University of Illinois, USA, on critical care, preparation of Pediatric Intensive Care Units and treatment protocols to combat a possible third Covid wave and outbreak of the virus in children . The program was arranged for Pediatricians working in state run medical college and hospitals, district hospitals, malnutrition treatment centres, Special New Born Care Units, New Born Stabilization Units, physicians and pediatricians who were posted in 28 new Pediatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs) all over Jharkhand.
  2. COMBATING VACCINE HESITANCY: Following attacks on vaccination teams, organized Mass Online Awareness Campaigns in 2021, connecting tribal religious leaders and Health and Jal Sahiyas, Anganwadi Workers, Sakhi Mandal members, to spread awareness in remote tribal areas, dispel fears, combat Covid vaccine hesitancy and speed up the pace Covid vaccination programme in Jharkhand.
  3. LAUNCH OF FREE BLACK FUNGUS HELPLINE: Launched a free 24 hour free helpline number to educate, counsel, assist and dispel fears on   post Covid black fungal infection, or Mucormycosis.
  4. STRENGTHENING IN INFRASTRUCTURE FOR CERVICAL CANCER DETECTION & PRECANCER CURE: To speed up cervical cancer screening of women in the reproductive age group, Dr.Kashyap , in her personal capacity, donated a Digital Video Colposcope with computer and Cryo set to Sadar Hospital at Ranchi. Due to her efforts 12 big government hospitals across Jharkhand are equipped with digital colposcope and Cryo set.
  5. RESEARCH:Has Maximum number of international research presentations from Jharkhand, in the field of Ophthalmology.

Contribution To The Field Of Ophthalmology
Core member of Institutional Ethics Committee of Kashyap Memorial Eye Hospital registered under CDSCO (Central Drugs Standard Control Organization) to promote high ethical standards in research for ophthalmology. Founder Director of Kashyap Memorial Eye Hospital, Ranchi, NABH accredited for four consecutive terms since Feb 2009 and providing masses of Jharkhand best quality treatment at affordable cost. Brought latest diagnostic and surgical innovations in the field of Ophthalmology. Pioneered use of worlds latest innovation in cataract and lasik surgery, femto laser assisted cataract and lasik surgery has crafted the future of many youth by spectacle free vision. Chief instructor in Technical Skill Transfer Courses 2017 and 2018 in All India Ophthalmological Society conferences.

Paper Presentation At International Level
Has maximum number of international presentations to her credit in the field of Ophthalmology from State of Jharkhand. American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Washington DC 2022, Boston Virtual ASCRS 2020, San Diego 2019, Washington DC 2018 and Los Angeles, California 2017. European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons Paris 2019, Vienna 2018, Lisbon 2017, Copenhagen 2016, Barcelona 2015. American Academy of Ophthalmology Chicago, IL 2016. Asia Pacific Association of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons Bali and Taipei 2016. Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology ARVO, USA 2013 and 2012. Has played role in strengthening knowledge of ophthalmologists of Jharkhand by organizing workshops on Cornea, OT Design and Protocol, Tips and Tricks in Femto laser cataract and Lasik surgery, Vitreo Retinal surgery and Glaucoma and Retinopathy of Prematurity 2007 to 2022.