During October, we observe World Sight Day, an international day of awareness for the global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment. It is a time for us to reflect on all that has been accomplished since the founding of Aravind, 37 years ago, and on all that remains to be done.
Since Dr. Venkataswamy first opened the doors of that 11-bed hospital in Madurai, Aravind has seen over 36 million patients and performed over 3 .5 million sight-saving surgeries. Today, there are 10 hospitals in the Aravind Eye Care System, with a new hospital scheduled to open in Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu in 2014. Our healthcare management division, LAICO, has mentored more than 270 hospitals and trained more than 14,000 medical professionals. Aravind has a world-class research organization and a global manufacturing company.
How was Dr. V able to set this incredible effort in motion and sustain it over nearly 40 years? There is only one answer: with the help of friends and volunteers around the world, many who are still working with Aravind, decades later. There is no typical Aravind volunteer, but they all share Dr. V commitment to serving humanity.
In this issue of our newsletter, we say thank you to the many volunteers who make Aravind possible, and invite you to meet a few of them. Check back on our new volunteer page, and meet others who have shaped the destiny of Aravind. Perhaps you are one of them, or you will be inspired to join the team.
The Board of Aravind Eye Foundation
Spotlight on Aravind Volunteers
Aravind volunteers come from such varied walks of life that it is difficult to describe the typical Aravind volunteer. One thing they all have in common is a passionate commitment to Aravind mission of eliminating needless blindness, and generosity of spirit, time, and talent.
Kathy Stillo is a management consultant with 15 years experience in strategy and operations leadership in healthcare and media. Currently, she works with the leadership of Cooper Hospital in Camden, New Jersey, to redesign outpatient services to help achieve the goals of better care, lower cost, and increased access to healthcare for Camden underserved population. She heads a strategic partnering initiative with the Aravind Eye Foundation leadership to develop business and philanthropic relationships with other leading healthcare and social enterprise organizations.
Click here to read Kathy interview.
This past summer, three students from the University of Pennsylvania -- Sindhuri Nandhakumar, Samuel Ware, and Christina Wu -- spent 10 weeks volunteering with Aravind. Their internships were part of a new relationship between Aravind and the Center for Advanced Study of India (CASI) at the University of Pennsylvania.
Click here to read their interview.
John and Susie Van Sickle spent several months at Aravind, developing and implementing an on-line Inventory Management System for all the Aravind hospitals. Susie heads a real estate and property management system; John worked in FedEx management for many years, and is expert in operations management.
Click here to read John ’s interview.
To find out about volunteering with Aravind, please click here.
Updates on Aravind Initiatives -- Your donations at work
Eye Care for a Million Children
According to World Health Organization (WHO), every minute one child goes blind. It is estimated that 1.4 million children are blind worldwide and millions more are visually impaired. In India alone, there are about 30 million children who need some type of eye care intervention.
With the support of the Lavelle Fund for the Blind, Aravind Eye Hospital proposed to reach one million children in three yearsstarting from August 2010, through comprehensive eye screening and providing treatment. Now, in its second year, this program has screened 664,417 children and provided more than 16,000 pairs of spectacles. In addition, 212 children had cataract surgeries to restore their sight.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Aravind Eye Foundation has sponsored rural vision centers in the villages of Kadayanallur, Uthukuli, and Srivilliputtur in Tamil Nadu. Each center serves a population of between 70,000 and 90,000, who otherwise would have no access to eye care. Since opening in the fall of 2011, these centers have served 15,438 outpatients, referred 720 to Aravind Eye Hospitals for cataract surgeries, and provided 2,028 pairs of spectacles.
Research in Glaucoma
For more information on Aravind Community Outreach, please click here.
Aravind Eye Foundation is funding a research project for Human Organ Culture Anterior Segment (HOCAS) Studies on Trabecular outflow. Ms. SenthilKumari from Aravind Medical Research Foundation (AMRF) is working on this study in collaboration with Dr. Paul Kaufman from the University of Wisconsin.
Establishing HOCAS in India will enable the valuable resource of fresh human eyes to be utilized for research related to trabecular outflow and glaucoma.This will eventually help to establish India as a worldwide resource for vision research utilizing anterior segment perfusion studies.
For more information on Aravind work in Research and Training, please click here.
Thanks for expanding the Ring of Hope
The Ring of Hope pays for treatment for children suffering from retinoblastoma, a blinding, and often fatal eye cancer. Thanks to our generous donors, Aravind has been able to provide 270 free consultations and treatment for retinoblastoma, so far this year, and provided free surgery to 36 children. Sixty patients have received custom-fit prosthetic eyes free of charge.
For more information on Ring of Hope and other patient programs, please click here.
Training Abroad -- Allene Reuss Grant
As a part of enhancing their skills, the Ophthalmologists at Aravind are sent to leading ophthalmic institutions in the US to get further exposure and training in the recent advances in their own area of sub-specialty in ophthalmology. We are grateful to the Allene Reuss Foundation for their generous support of this program.
Openings, Awards, and Achievements:
The October Summit is an annual event,honoring the memory of Dr. Venkataswamy. Each year, Aravind organizes a series of workshops, attended by participants from around the world, focusing on issues in research, eye care delivery, and improving hospital management.
Acumen Fund Visit
This year’s summit coincided with a visit from social investment firm, the Acumen Fund. Acumen was an early investor in Aravind’s now award-winning telemedicine program. Board members from Acumen met with the senior leaders of Aravind and toured the facilities to give them a firsthand understanding of the Aravind model of patient-centric care,combined with high volume and quality.
Dr. G. Venkataswamy Endowment Award
During the summit, the Dr. G. Venkataswamy Endowment Award was presented to Dr. Alan Lee Robin, Associate Professor Ophthalmology and International Health, Johns Hopkins University, US in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the cause of ophthalmology and prevention of blindness in the developing world in general and India in particular.