Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Global Health Council 4: Coming Full Circle with Aravind

Aman already reported on the Aravind Eye Care System (AECS) being awarded the prestigious 2008 Gates Award for Global Health, which “honors extraordinary efforts to improve health in developing countries”.  And as Aman mentioned, three of us at this blog owe a big debt to the Aravind organization, first for allowing us to work with them starting in 2004 in studying the Aurolab model, and second for launching us into the arena of technology, innovation, and global health.  More than 4 years after we began our relationship with Aravind, I found myself at my poster talking with Dr. Nam and Dr. Ravi about medical licensing for recent graduates in India and Mongolia.  (Similar policies of requiring graduates to work in rural areas between medical school and residency.)

The photo below is from after the awards ceremony on Thursday night.  L-R: Dr. R.D. Ravindran, Chief Medical Officer of the Pondicherry hospital, Dr. P. Naperumalsamy, me.  Thanks to Suzanne Gilbert, Director of the SEVA Foundation, Center for Innovation in Eye Care, for taking the photo.  She was also instrumental in getting us started in this field, so it was great to reconnect with her here in DC.

Dr. Nam’s award acceptance speech on behalf of AECS followed up a short film about Aravind and a detailed telling of the Aravind story by William Gates, Sr.  Some new directions I learned from his speech:

  1. Aravind has signed an MOU with China to increase the number of cataract surgeries done there
  2. They have an increased emphasis on information technology for supporting and extending services
  3. They aim to provide 1 million cataract surgeries per year within 5 years (currently 280,000)
  4. On October 1st, they will dedicate a research institute named after Dr. V

Dr. Nam closed by saying: “We have done something through Aravind, but there is much more to be done.”

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