The Scientific Indian

Announcement at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:

SEATTLE — In recognition of its groundbreaking work to prevent debilitating blindness and provide affordable, world-class eye care to the poor, the Aravind Eye Care System, based in Tamil Nadu, India, has won the 2008 Gates Award for Global Health. The $1 million Gates Award–the world’s largest prize for international health–honors extraordinary efforts to improve health in developing countries.

Founded by Dr. G. Venkataswamy in 1976, Aravind has saved millions of people in India from debilitating blindness. Cataracts account for more than half the cases of blindness in India. In the past year, Aravind provided out-patient care to approximately 2.4 million patients and performed more than 280,000 surgeries. Thanks in part to Aravind’s efforts, the estimated number of blind people in India fell from 8.9 million in 1990 to 6.7 million in 2002, a decline of 25%.

Many years ago, my grandfather, who lived in a small village in Tamilnadu (Vazhavandi), and many other elederly men and women of surrounding villages boarded a bus that took people from villages for to Aravind hospital. It was a free service to get their eyes tested and treated. My grandfather suffered from acute cataract and was grateful for the care. His quality of life was greatly improved after a cataract operation (done for free). There are literally millions of elderly people in rural Tamilnadu who have benefited from the care provided by Aravind Eye Care network.

I am absolutely delighted. An earlier post with a video on Aravind Eye Hospital.

Gates Foundation has done more good than any organization – public or private – I know of. The Sage of Omaha knew it. We appreciate it. [Thanks Becky (of Gates Foundation, Global Health Communications team) for passing the news on.]


  1. #1 Aman
    May 30, 2008

    Great story about your grandfather being treated at Aravind. Aravind is not just a hospital or factory, they seem to have had a profound impact on local communities. One of the most impressive things about their story is that they built this enterprise from the ground up and they are self-sufficient.

  2. #2 selva
    June 2, 2008

    Aman, yes, indeed. Besides my grandfather, my sister had her eye operation done at Aravind. While we paid for it, there are thousand others who get the same quality of care for free.

  3. #3 K.Ravi
    August 3, 2008

    Check out your facts before publishing them.

    Aravind charges its “free” patients [also called non-paying patients] a fee of Rs. 500. They are not operated free.

    Only those patients who come via eye camps sponsored by the govt. are operated free, because the govt pays Rs.500 for each case. The other “free” patients, whether walk in or in non-govt. funded eyecamps are charged a princely sum of Rs. 500.

  4. #4 K.Ravi
    August 3, 2008

    Also want to add that paying patients have to pay much more at Aravind then in comparable non-profit hospitals and private clinics. All this inspite of the fact that they recive millions of dollars in international aid. Check that out.

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