Keerti Bhusan Pradhan, a simple boy from rural Odisha was fortunate to be selected to the prestigious Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, India in their Healthcare Management Post Graduate Programme. TISS gave Keerti the skill set and platform to fulfill his dream of dedicating his life to the service of the poor and the underprivileged in a strategic and sustainable manner than emotional manner. In 1995, post TISS, Keerti joined ICICI in Mumbai and worked on project management and Healthcare innovative project financing of healthcare/hospital projects. He did exceptionally well but he was longing to be on the field serving the people that mattered the most to him. He took a courageous decision in 1999 and followed his heart and left the big city life and joined the famous Aravind Eye Care System (AECS) at Madurai.
The association with the AECS was the start of a long and cherished career focused on serving people in world’s remotest corners. He learned a great deal and used this knowledge to develop eye hospitals and eye care programmes across 12 countries in Asia and Africa and 15 states in India. He was instrumental in growing the Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology (LAICO) the global eyecare capacity building division of AECS. His capacity building skills and strategic leadership resulted in helping more than 120 eye hospitals and eye care organizations in devising and improving their eye care strategies, practices, programs, and management. He transitioned from AECS after 8 years of a life-changing tenure and joined an International NGO to lead its capacity building programme in 10 African nations.
In 2011, Keerti changed his focus to India as he wanted to help build solutions for tackling refractive error and presbyopia in India at the last mile. He was affected by the fact that though eyeglasses are a 700-year old simple technology, but millions still lacked awareness, access, and affordability. He was inspired to face this complex challenge and joined VisionSpring as Strategic Advisor.
VisionSpring is a pioneering social enterprise working with a mission of taking the gift of clear vision through eyeglasses to low-income people. Almost 10 years on, Keerti is closely involved with VisionSpring as an Advisor and Board Member. Keerti has been instrumental in establishing partnerships with more than 15 Indian State Governments, 400 eye hospitals, and 100 corporates and NGOs. Keerti successfully conceived and developed the USAID-funded innovative hub and spoke model. He helped set-up VisionSpring’s programmes in Sudan, Kenya, and Philippines. Under Keerti’s leadership, guidance, and mentorship, VisionSpring was able to grow its social impact by more than 20 times and thus helping people earn and learn better and lead safer lives through its diverse partnerships and its programme areas: See to Earn/Learn/Be Safe. In 2019 alone, VisionSpring touched more than 2.7 million people with eye-screenings and more than 1 million people with eyeglasses across India.
Keerti has been constantly advising and helping Vision 2020 India and has also helped in increasing its membership and constituting 2 awards for eye care institutions serving the poor and the marginalized. He has been a pro bono adviser to several eye hospitals, ophthalmologists, and optometrists who are serving the remote and rural regions. and is a guest faculty at several universities training budding eyecare and healthcare professionals. He has been the recipient of several recognitions for his selfless services, including the National Association for the Blind Award in Chandigarh for welfare of visually challenged. Keerti came from humble beginnings but his contributions to eye care over 25 years have positively changed the lives of millions. Simple solutions for avoidable blindness can change lives!