Aravind caters to the eye care needs of a population of 100 million in Tamilnadu and adjoining districts from bordering States of India, through its network of 7 tertiary and 7 secondary eye hospitals, 6 community eye clinics and 108 Vision Centres. In addition, each year close to 3,000 outreach activities are carried out. The community eye clinics, rural Vision Centres and the outreach, by design address the access and affordability barriers, resulting in 1.74 million outpatient examinations, with Vision Centres accounting for close to 930,000 outpatient visits.
Community engagement is the cornerstone of Aravind’s outreach. All the non-clinical activities like publicising the outreach, building for examining the patients, mobilizing volunteers, getting necessary approvals are all done by the community partners, who now number over a 1,000. Many of the community partners have been engaged with Aravind in organizing the outreach for decades. In the outreach comprehensive eye examinations are carried out resulting in 25% to 30% of the patients being referred to the hospital for surgery (predominantly cataract), 10% referred for more complex conditions that require hospital-based diagnostics and another 15% to 20% getting a glass prescription, which most of them buy at the outreach site itself. Those referred for surgery are transported to the base hospital, provided surgery, transported back to the outreach site and followed up after a month, all at no cost to the patient.
This principle of providing comprehensive eye examinations at all levels of care and designing the services to close the care loop (enabling them to get the prescribed surgery/treatment) has resulted in the resolution of the problem and improved vision in most of those seeking care. This we believe has not only sustained the demand but resulted in steady growth.