A drop in the ocean is enough to create ripples. Aravind Eye Foundation
It is incredible how small initiatives, mostly triggered by a single determined person, can go such a long way in action.
Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy is one such example. Discharged from the post of a physician in the Indian Army due to rheumatoid arthritis, it was sheer willpower that has got him where he is today.
Dr. Venkataswamy founded the Aravind Eye Foundation in 1976.
Aravind Eye foundation comprises a chain of hospitals that collectively have had a major hand in reducing cataract related blindness in India. The Aravind Eye foundation has treated nearly 35 million patients and performed nearly 4.5 million surgeries. Aravind Eye Foundation is one of the most productive eye-care service groups across the globe. Most of the surgeries they perform are either for free or at a minimal cost.
Inspired by the efficiency of McDonald’s fast food, Aravind Eye Care sought to adapt the same model to cope with the increasing number of patients that need to be treated. Apart from the chain of hospitals, Aravind has established an outreach program where the doctors reach out to remote villages to conduct eye camps sponsored by various organizations. The sponsors take care of the transportation, costs of the camp and other expenses whereas Aravind performs surgeries for free. In no time, Aravind was performing 5 times the surgeries that were being performed in India and sixteen times more than that of the entire U.S.
To further reduce the costs of surgeries, they have now established their own lens manufacturing facility, Auro lab, Eye Bank and blood bank.
Aravind Eye Foundation has received the following awards and recognition:
– Champalimaud Vision Award (2007)
– Gates Award for Global Health
– Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize
– India’s Most Innovative Hospital Award at India Healthcare Awards
– FICCI Award for the Best Private Hospital in India
What India needs today is a few more compassionate people like Dr. Venkataswamy, who have a vision for a better tomorrow. Our pace might be slow but we seem to be on the right track. The MINDS Foundation and the Sphoorti NGO are two other organizations that are doing their bit for the medical welfare in India.
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