Aravind is internationally renowned for its self-sustaining model of compassionate care – no one is turned away on the basis of ability to pay. Your donations make it possible for us to help those who need extensive and long-term treatment and to provide food and housing for patients and their families who must travel many miles to reach an Aravind hospital. Thanks to your generous donations, to Aravind Eye Care System supported the following patient care projects:
Ring of Hope Fund: Twelve children suffering from devastating eye cancers received treatment at Aravind completely free of cost, including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery, as well as room and board for the patient and family.
2 year old Nandhini, was brought to Aravind, when she was unable to open her right eye and had been waking-up crying for last ten days. Nandhini lost her sight in the right eye a year ago, and when the doctors examined her swollen red eye they discovered that the child had developed retinoblastoma in the right eye and the counselor advised the parents that if the eye was not removed, the cancer may spread to other parts and endanger the child’s life itself eventually. So it was inevitable to remove the eye to save the child. After the parents consent the diseased eye was removed Nandhini was treated free of cost with the support of your donations. Now, after 3 cycles of completed chemotherapy Nandhini’s parents are happy that their child’s life is out of danger.
Most Aravind Hospitals and Community Centers are located in different parts of Tamil Nadu, India, with central office in Madurai.
Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer with GlobalGiving who visited our partners’ projects throughout South and Southeast Asia. On June 14th he visited Aravind clinics, labs and other facilities in Madurai. His “Postcard” from the visit:
“Dr. V.”, the late founder of Aravind, realized great efficiency gains in eye surgeries could be realized by minimizing the time each patient spent with the surgeon. The skills the surgeon has are so highly specialized and valuable that it is wasteful, in a sense, to take up his or her time doing other things. So multiple patients, attending staff and instruments are cycled in and out of the surgery room—allowing Aravind surgeons to do four times as many surgeries annually as their colleagues elsewhere in India. Americans might cringe at this lack of bedside manner, but in the face of an overwhelming need and very limited resources this approach allows many more to be treated, including those who could otherwise not afford it.
Aravind has designed its pricing scheme so that every paying cataract customer supports two free or surgeries for low-income individuals. Those who are able to pay some money are given a subsidized rate. This model is economically self-sufficient; there is even money left over to reinvest in the organization and expansion. Other specialty surgeries are more expensive and this is where outside donations, including those from GlobalGiving, primarily go.
The facility for free patients is a chaotic jumble of humanity (see the attached picture)—a good sign considering they spend $0 on marketing or publicity. There seemed to be an underlying order that was getting people where they needed to be—for a consultation, surgery prep, prescriptions, check-ups. A steady stream of people with bandages over one eye was flowing out of the clinic.
I also saw Aravind’s production facility, Aurolab, where they manufacture their own lenses, sutures, instruments, blades and even pharmaceuticals. This was something I was continuously impressed by: Aravind’s dedication to doing everything in-house. Research, manufacturing, maintenance, trainings, outreach—all is done by Aravind employees. This may be an offshoot of being family-run (most of the management is related); whatever the reason it certainly makes them more self-sufficient.
Several new buildings were going up in the Aravind complex when I was there. If the principles which have guided them thus far continue to permeate the organization while expanding, unnecessary blindness has a potent adversary in southern India. Given that one-third of the world’s blind are in India and life expectancy for them is 2.5 years after going blind, this growth seems to be just what the doctor ordered.
2010 has been a truly action-packed year for Aravind and well into its fourth decade of blindness prevention work the organization shows no signs of slowing down. The organization seems to leap from one dazzling accomplishment to the next, yet never failing to prioritize the needs of the patients who need them the most.
Aravind through its hospitals, community centers, vision enters and outreach camps screened 2.54 million patients in the year ending March 2010 and performed 302,180 surgical and laser procedures of which 53% were free or subsidized.
With the support of wellwishers and donors through Global Giving, Aravind continues to provide free speciality care to the underserverd patients which include children suffering from eye cancers, Glaucoma patients and Diabetic retinopathy patients. So far this this year 10 ring of hope patients suffering from retinoblastoma were treated comletely free of charge. Attached are a few photos of these children. The link below provides a summary of the activites undertaken by Friends of aravind to support Aravind Eye Care Systems mission of eradicating needless blindness.