In This Edition:

Aravind Eye Foundation Board:

Dr. Christine Melton

Treasurer & Secretary: Ms.Pavithra Mehta

Dr. S. Aravind
Mr. Jerry G. Jones
Ms. Meg Lueker
Prof. Kasthuri Rangan
Dr. R.D. Ravindran
Dr. Alan Robin
Mr.R. D. Thulasiraj

Advisory Board:
Mr. Jose Barquin
Dr. Morton Goldberg
Ms. Santha Jeyabalan
Prof. Fred Munson
Dr. P. Namperumalsamy
Dr. Bruce Spivey

Executive Director
Ms. Donna Campbell

Dear Friends,

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization reported a first time decline in the number of blind worldwide from 45 million to 39 million. Your support to organizations like Aravind is helping make a tangible difference in eliminating needless blindness and giving people back their dignity, independence and livelihoods.

That support also helps spread Dr. V vision and Aravind revolutionary model to other parts of the world. In recent years, health care professionals from Latin America, Africa, Asia, as well as Europe and the United States, have visited Aravind hospitals eager to learn how to replicate its patient-centric, high-quality, cost-effective delivery systems. To date, Aravind has trained close to 6000 healthcare professionals and worked with more than 270 hospitals and vision centers throughout the world to increase global capacity for eye care.

The institute responsible for helping other hospitals implement Aravind methods and self-sustaining philosophy is LAICO, (Lions Aravind Institute of Community Outreach). Established in 1992 with the support of the Lions Club International SightFirst Program and the Seva Foundation, LAICO is Asia's first international training program provider for healthcare administrators and practitioners. In this issue of the newsletter, LAICO Executive Director, Thulsiraj Ravilla explains why capacity building is absolutely critical to meeting the mission of Aravind and eliminating blindness worldwide.

Finally, we invite you to visit the new websites for Aravind Eye Care System and Aravind Eye Foundation like us, share us, tweet us and let the world know about Aravind!

Warmest regards,
The Board of Aravind Eye Foundation

Spotlight on Capacity Building: Interview with Thulsi Ravilla, Executive Director of LAICO

Through LAICO, its healthcare management arm, Aravind has developed a number of programs to help hospitals and vision centers build capacity and implement efficient and sustainable eye care programs. Executive Director, Thulsi Ravilla explains why this work is so important to fulfilling Aravind mission.

What is Capacity Building? Why is it important for eye care programs?
Most hospitals are set up to treat certain ailments in the community, but they fail to use scientific methods to estimate the need for their services, as well as their own capacity. Over time, this results in underutilization of existing resources. At the launch of the global initiative, Vision 2020: the Right to Sight, it was estimated that only 25% of global eye care capacity was being utilized.

Through LAICO, Aravind healthcare management arm, we have developed processes and tools to address this problem. First, we help hospitals quantify three points. One, the need for eye care services in their community. Two, the capacity of their hospital in ideal conditions meaning that they have an adequate flow of patients, the staff required, and the equipment and other resources. Finally, the actual number of surgeries and direct patient services currently provided. This helps them look objectively at the disparity between the service currently being provided, the market potential, and their own capacity. Often the differences are startling. In some cases, the service they provide is about 5 to 10% of the market need, using under 20% of their potential capacity. We take this as a starting point, and set stretch targets as to what they want to achieve, given this reality of unmet need and underutilized capacity. This way of thinking essentially breaks down mental barriers, and puts the leadership of the hospital back into a visionary mode.

The practical part is to help these hospitals figure out concrete strategies and action plans to realize these stretch goals: strategies for getting patients , strategies for providing services efficiently, strategies for ensuring high quality -- because quality is what sustains demand and creates a willingness to pay. And finally, what is the business model financing the whole operation, given that patients will come from the entire mix of economic strata? In short, capacity building is about helping hospitals achieve their full market potential, as well as the full capacity of their own organization.

How do LAICO programs help eliminate needless blindness?
LAICO capacity building work focuses on organization-wide strategic changes which will result in higher volume of services year after year. In our experience, we have seen most hospitals double their surgical output with their existing resources within 12 to 18 months of our engagement. These hospitals also become more financial sustainable from patient revenues during the same period. To us, this is an indication of higher quality, better cost control, and better efficiency.

Together these factors have a direct impact on reducing needless blindness. To date, LACIO has worked with more the 270 hospitals in India and other countries. We very conservatively estimate that this intervention results in an additional 500,000 to 750,000 surgeries annually.Click here to read the entire interview

Tribute to Dr. Carl Kupfer, 1928-2011

With deep sadness, Aravind noted the passing of dear friend and former Aravind Eye Foundation board member, Dr. Carl Kupfer on April 7 at the age of 83. Dr. Kupfer was appointed as the first director of the National Eye Institute when it was established in 1968 until 2000. Through his championing of controlled clinical trials, Dr. Kupfer has left a lasting legacy of successes in ameliorating vision loss from a number of major eye diseases. Dr. Kupfer association with Aravind and Dr. V. goes back many decades. He sowed and nurtured the initial seeds for Aravind research capacity. In his message on the occasion of Aravind silver jubilee, he wrote, The coming together of quality eye care, exceptional teaching opportunities and strong research capability will continue to be an inspiration for all who have been a small part of the first 25 years and for those yet to experience the Aravind miracle.

Seed grant received to support the Aravind Eye Foundation

Thanks to the generosity of one of our board members, Aravind Eye Foundation has been able to expand its networking and partnership activities in the US and hire its first Executive Director.

Tata Jagriti Yatra visit Aravind Eye Care System

In December, around 400 "Tata Jagriti" yatris (service pilgrims) visited Aravind Eye Care System to get an orientation on its working model. Tata Jagriti Yatra is a vibrant annual train journey that enlists hundreds of young Indians between the ages of 20 and 25, and a small number of international participants on an 18-day national odyssey, introducing them to a series of extraordinary service initiatives and everyday heroes across India. Tata Jagriti Yatra vision is to inspire young Indians to take a lead role in development and social enterprise, and to transform them from being job seekers to job creators. The journey aim is to awaken the spirit of entrepreneurship - both social and economic - within India's youth by exposing them to individuals and institutions that have developed unique solutions to the country challenges.

Get Involved: New volunteer opportunities in New York

Aravind Eye Foundation is currently recruiting for the following volunteer positions:

  • Fundraising research support (NY)
  • Social networking coordinator (NY)
  • Marketing and Communications Support (NY)

If you would like to volunteer with Aravind Eye Care Services in India or Aravind Eye Foundation in New York, please complete our Volunteer Form and submit it online with a copy of your resume.

Updates on Aravind Initiatives in:

Community Outreach
Two Vision Centres were inaugurated at Ulundurpet in Pondicherry and at Kandamanur near Theni in the month of January, 2011, bringing Aravind closer to its goal of 100 new vision centers by 2020.
For more information on Aravind Community Outreach, please click here.

Capacity Building -- Healthcare Management
Aravind healthcare management arm, LAICO, received a grant from the International Association for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) to work with nine hospitals in India, Bangladesh, South Africa, and Tibet. Each hospital receives a needs assessment visit by LAICO consultants, followed by a vision-building workshop, and HR development and training at LAICO. The hospitals also have access to on-going support and monitoring from LAICO consultants.
For more information on Aravind work in Healthcare Management, please click here.

Research and Education
Through a generous grant from Dr. David Chang, Aravind will be the first hospital in India to have a True Vision 3D video camera and monitor/recording system for teaching cataract surgery. Dr. Chang is Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of California, San Francisco, and one of the world leading cataract surgeons.

The True Vision system features a special camera that is mounted on the surgical microscope, and displays the operation on a special 3-D, high definition 48 flat screen monitor in the OR. The surgeon, staff, and trainees can all simultaneously view the 3-D image. Aravind will also use footage to create a library of training videos which can be dubbed into different languages and accessed online. For more information on Aravind work in Research and Training, please click here.

Openings, Awards, and Achievements
  • Presentation of Dr. G. Venkataswamy Endowment Oration Award January, 8th, 2011. Dr. G. Venkataswamy Endowment Oration Award, instituted in memory of Aravind's Founder chairman was bestowed on Dr. John P. Whitcher of Francis I Proctor Foundation, USA for his outstanding and groundbreaking work in the field of corneal disorders.
  • Aravind Eye Care Exhibition Madurai, Pondicherry, and Tirunelveli: Increasing knowledge about the prevention and treatment of eye disease is crucial to eliminating unnecessary blindness. In Madurai, Pondicherry, and Tirunelveli, Aravind Eye Hospital organized eye care awareness exhibitions for the general public and students. More than 7000 people visited booths by different specialty clinics and departments, viewed a documentary on eye diseases, and tour an improvised operation theatre where videos on live surgeries were demonstrated.
  • Vision Award 2011,,Berlin, Germany, April 8 Dr. P. Namperumalsamy, Chairman Emeritus, Aravind Eye Care System was presented with the Vision Award-2011 by GENISIS INSTITUTE for Social Business and Impact Strategies, Berlin, Germany. This award has been given in recognition of the social impact business the Aravind Eye Care System is running under his guidance. He delivered the key note address on Inspiring Innovations/Expanding Horizons detailing the history of Aravind Eye Care System.
  • Heroes of Humanity Award was conferred upon Dr. R.D. Ravindran, Chairman, Aravind Eye Care System by the Art of Living Foundation on the occasion of its 30th anniversary celebrations in Chennai on Jan. 30th.
  • Best Affordable Specialty Hospital Award was awarded to Aravind Eye Care System on March 12th by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry FICCI, TNSC in association with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Tamil Nadu. The award was given in recognition of its contribution to the healthcare sector of the nation during the third edition of TANCARE, a conference on health care.