Aravind is known for performing cataract surgeries at affordable prices. The organisation is looking to aid Bangladesh in a similar manner, sharing technology, training and transferring its know-how.
“We’re trying to let others gain from best practices and the models that are working on the ground, so that they don’t have to reinvent everything,” says Thulasiraj Ravilla, its director of operations.
While this is not Aravind’s first venture outside the country, the Bangladesh foray is the largest so far. The organisation has worked with individuals, non-government organisations and hospital chains overseas. The project in Bangladesh is its first instance of working at a national level.
Ravilla said Bangladesh, like India, has issues with inclusion and access to primary eye care.
“The allocation has been made for 40 centres and it has been decided where these will come up. The cost, being borne by the government, is estimated at $6,000-7,000 per centre. The idea is to strengthen the upazila (sub-district) hospitals where the infrastructure is present and so is the patient flow,” added Ravilla. The first batch of technicians, who will operate machinery and other functions at these centres in Bangladesh, will be trained in India for two months. Aravind will lend its real-time telemedicine application to the centres in Bangladesh, which will collect patient and, clinical information.
When the 200 centres in Bangladesh go online, Ravilla said each centre should be able to handle 20 patients a day at their peak.
This would mean 4,000 people could receive treatment for their eyes in a day and around 1.2 million people in a year.
“In terms of eye surgeries, Bangladesh has a lot of backlog. But if we take a conservative estimate that each centre can do 400 surgeries a year, that’s 80,000 surgeries,” adds Ravilla
Aravind Eye Care wants to help governments, especially in developing nations, to improve eye care.
“There is enough evidence to show that in the seven to eight million population that we are serving, we have created universal access to primary eye care,” added Ravilla.