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Aravind to take ‘McDonald’s’ eyecare strategy to Bangladesh

India’s largest network of primary eyecare centres, the Aravind Eye Hospitals, will work with the Bangladesh Government to establish more than 200 ophthalmology clinics in the country.

Known for performing inexpensive cataract surgeries through its unique system that was originally inspired by McDonald’s, Aravind is now hoping to transfer its technology, knowledge and training to people in India’s eastern neighbour.

“We’re trying to let others gain from best practices and the models that are working on the ground, so that they don’t have to reinvent everything,” Aravind’s director of operations Mr Thulasiraj Ravilla told Business Standard.

"There is enough evidence to show that in the 7–8 million population that we are serving, we have created universal access to primary eyecare."
Thulasiraj Ravilla, Aravind’s Director of Operations

“The allocation has [already] been made for 40 centres and it has been decided where these will come up. The cost, being borne by the government, is estimated at US$6,000–7,000 (AU$7,500–9,000) per centre. The idea is to strengthen the upazila (sub-district) hospitals where the infrastructure is present and so is the patient flow.”

While Aravind has previously worked with NGOs, individuals and overseas hospital chains to expand its operations, it has never before worked directly with a national government. The project will also be its largest international project by some distance.

According to Business Standard, the first clinicians will be trained in India for two months before being redeployed to the centres. Aravind will also share its real-time telemedicine facilities with the centres in Bangladesh, which will collect patient and clinical information.

Once operational, Ravilla has estimated that each centre should be able to accommodate up to 20 patients per day, which means they have the potential to treat up to 1.2 million people a year.

Aravind management has also stated a desire to continue to expand operations to help other governments, especially those in developing nations, to improve their eyecare.

“In terms of eye surgeries, Bangladesh has a lot of backlog. But if we take a conservative estimate that each centre can do 400 surgeries a year, that’s 80,000 surgeries,” Ravilla said.

“There is enough evidence to show that in the 7–8 million population that we are serving, we have created universal access to primary eyecare.”

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