India has a population of over 1.25 billion people; eight million are blind and 29.8% live below the poverty line. To help restore the sight of India’s needlessly blind people, Seva has worked in partnership with Aravind Eye Care System for over 30 years.
In 1976, with Seva’s help, retired ophthalmologist Dr. Venkataswamy turned his former home in Madurai, India into an 11-bed hospital. Now, the largest eye care institution in the world, Aravind performs over 400,000 cataract surgeries each year.
Aravind is a world leader in its model of high quality, high volume, affordable, sustainable, community-oriented eye care. Its innovative financial structure allows fees from one third of paying patients to subsidize services for the two-thirds of patients who cannot afford the costs. Aravind’s creative cross-funding model is now the standard in all Seva supported programs.
Through our work, Aravind and Seva also noted the need for high quality, affordable intraocular lenses and sutures. Through research and development of manufacturing technologies, and funding from Seva and the Canadian International Development Agency, Aravind established the Aurolab unit. Aurolab has revolutionized eye care delivery in many developing countries by making affordable cataract surgery supplies available to the poor.
While Seva initially assisted Aravind in establishing Aurolab and creating essential finance, community outreach, and staffing structures, this dynamic partnership now focuses on:
- building Aravind’s research capacities as a training and consulting resource for eye care programs in the Indian subcontinent and worldwide;
- developing of a network of Vision Centres to bring eye care to the village level and serve India’s rural poor;
- and, human resource development and capacity building of eye care personnel and institutions worldwide.