Aravind commits to establishing a three-way collaboration between itself, Ophthalmic Centers, and Diabetic/Physician Centers to ensure permanent access to advanced eye care services that are dismally low in Indonesia and Bangladesh. In doing so, Aravind hopes to: (1) set up a remote diagnostic system between the diabetic centers and Aravind, where Aravind will provide expert consultation about the condition of diabetic retinopathy and ensure patient follow-up; (2) expand access to eye care by linking diabetic centers with local eye hospitals for interventions like laser procedure; (3) develop required human resources for ophthalmic set up and physician/diabetic centers.
The implementation process involves identification of local diabetic/physician centers with ophthalmic centers and regular patient traffic with the support of respective international NGOs. With the funds that will be raised, diabetic centers will be equipped with fundus imaging equipment, computers with the patient information databases, image capture software, and broadband connectivity.
Similarly ophthalmic centers will be equipped with green laser equipment that will be supplied by Aurolab at a low cost and encouraged to invest in purchasing a fundus imaging system for internal use. These centers will also have broadband connectivity linked to Aravind and the respective diabetic/physician centers.
The human resource development component includes:
- Training a technician from the diabetic center to capture Fundus imaging.
- Ensuring that the ophthalmic centers have the competence to provide advanced treatment, such as diagnosis and laser procedures.
- Training the existing general ophthalmologist in managing DR (including diagnosis and intervention) through a short term 2 months course at Aravind.
- Having counselors (social workers) promote eye health education and ensure compliance to treatment/ follow-up. Aravind will provide the options of using IT applications like sending reminders about the follow-up dates through available technology, including mobile phone SMS programs.
- Sharing the approach, processes, and templates involved in promoting eye health with these centers and assist in developing required health education resources to sensitize the community.
Diabetes mellitus currently affects 246 million people worldwide and is estimated to increase to a staggering 380 million by the year 2025. Eyes are the most commonly affected organ by diabetes, which results in Diabetic Retinopathy (DR), a condition that could lead to permanent vision loss and is symptom-less in its early stages. It is estimated that more than 2.5 million people worldwide are affected by diabetic retinopathy and that the majority of them will be in the productive age group of 20 - 65 years. Early diagnosis and treatment is the only way to prevent losing vision or going blind permanently. Though all diabetics require regular monitoring for diabetic retinopathy, only a very small proportion of the 'known diabetics' receive a comprehensive eye examination.
Established in 1976, Aravind's mission is to eliminate needless blindness, through its five eye hospitals in Tamil Nadu State and Pondicherry. The organization has performed three million surgeries till date, making it the largest eye care provider in the world. Having developed a replicable service delivery model, Aravind--through structured capacity building processes and training--shares its best practices to support other eye care programmes globally in their sustained development. Aravind has also been working to develop scalable models in the new arenas such as developing replicable DR Service delivery models, thus helping other eye hospitals adapt the same enabling quicker implementation of services that benefits community at large.