Madurai

An engagement that multiplies performance

R.D. Thulasiraj, Executive Director, Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology, Madurai.

R.D. Thulasiraj, Executive Director, Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology, Madurai.  

LAICO has helped 347 hospitals to improve their eye care delivery

It was around 2010 and Sitapur Eye Hospital in Uttar Pradesh was struggling to keep its 80-year-old reputation alive.

The hospital’s robust volume of 25,000 surgeries a year had dwindled to less than 3,000 annually by 2007.

The downslide followed the demise of its founder M P Mehray in 1974 and in subsequent decades several factors contributed to the deterioration.

In Madurai, Aravind Hospital was mentoring eye hospitals to build capacity, implement efficient and sustainable eye care programmes and improve delivery systems. It came to the rescue of Sitapur.

With Aravind’s guidance, it is performing 100,000 surgeries a year now.

“The idea is to ensure that all hospitals do not go the same way but learn from each other’s experience.

Then the mission of eliminating needless blindness through opportunities and resources becomes easier,” says R D Thulasiraj, Director (Operations) at Aravind Eye Care System.

Over the years, Mr. Thulasiraj has worked out a mechanism that brings patients, who are otherwise left out of eye care and succumb to preventable blindness, into the system.

Ever since its inception, it has been the group’s endeavour to share their best practices with others.

“It is difficult for others to understand why one hospital willingly shares its expertise to help another hospital in order to fight blindness,” says Mr. Thulasiraj. But when you enhance the capacity of others, the overall outcome improves because it also triggers self-improvement to remain relevant and efficient in the field, he adds.

On the birth centenary of G. Venkatswamy, founder of Aravind Eye Hospital, an important arm — Lions Aravind Institute of Community Opthalmology (LAICO) -- is completing 25 years. Being at the helm of LAICO’s training, consultancy, research and advocacy programmes as well, Mr. Thulasiraj has over the years helped eye hospitals across nations turn around.

LAICO has so far assisted 259 hospitals in India and 88 abroad and is currently in active contact with 80 hospitals in 30 countries to address the eye care gaps in communities.

“Capacity building is critical to preventing blindness,” says Mr. Thulasiraj and narrates how defining the last few months have been with LAICO guiding the Government of Bangladesh to establish 200 vision centres. Over 40 nurses came for training at LAICO following which 20 centres were launched simultaneously by Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina this month.

Today, LAICO is a self-sufficient entity supported by the Lions Clubs International Sight First programme. “We have seen most of our partnering hospitals double their surgical output with their existing resources within 12 to 18 months of our engagement and becoming financially sustainable,” he adds. LAICO usually engages with the hospitals for three years but remains a friend forever.

According to Mr. Thulasiraj, LAICO’s intervention over the years has resulted in at least 8,50,000 additional surgeries annually.

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Printable version | Jul 13, 2020 1:56:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/an-engagement-that-multiplies-performance/article25077898.ece

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