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Published on: Aug. 25, 2022, 9:34 p.m.
How Sankara secures vision
  • Sankara Eye Foundation provides world class eye care totally free of cost to 80 per cent of its patients

By Arbind Gupta. Assistant Editor, Business India

Sankara Eye Hospitals, a part of the Sankara Eye Foundation India, is one of the fastest growing eye care chains in the country. Started as a small primary healthcare centre in Coimbatore way back in 1977 by Padma Shri Awardee, Founder & Managing Trustee Dr RV Ramani and his wife Dr Radha Ramani, Sankara has today emerged as a social enterprise managing 12 super specialty eye care hospitals located across Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Moreover, Sankara also has 38 Vision Centres across the country.

Sankara Eye Foundation, a non-profit organisation, works with the vision to provide quality eye care services to the poor and marginalised sections of society. It provides world class eye care totally free of cost to 80 per cent of its patients and through paid services for 20 per cent of patients, which in turn subsidises the total cost of treatment. As per the latest report from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), there are an estimated 270 million people with vision loss in India; of these, 9.2 million people are blind.

Sankara is expanding its presence in the country. Currently, it has two new upcoming hospitals – one in Hyderabad and another one in Varanasi. The upcoming hospital in Hyderabad will be Sankara’s largest unit after Coimbatore. This facility will focus on serving people in Telangana’s rural areas and is expected to be inaugurated by mid-2024.

As part of its deeper penetration into northern India, it will open a new hospital in Varanasi around the same time. The eye care chain is also looking to triple its capacity of free surgeries in its Kanpur unit by 50,000-60,000 from the existing 20,000 and in Guntur to 70,000 from the existing 27,000. Besides, Sankara also plans to increase the number of Vision Centres to 100+ in the near future.

 The primary goal

“Sankara Eye Foundation India is a protagonist of the national eye health care movement in India, continuously transforming the eye care delivery structure through various eye care initiatives across age groups, cutting edge technology, scientific approach, innovation, research and training. The vision of Sankara is born from the need to provide quality eye care to everyone, regardless of socio-economic, religious, linguistic and geographical backgrounds, free of cost,” says Dr Kaushik Murali, President, Medical Administration, Quality & Education, Sankara Eye Foundation India

 “The primary goal of the community eye health programme is to fight against preventable and curable blindness. More than 80 per cent of blindness is preventable and curable. Sankara Eye Foundation was initiated with this vision and mission to eliminate avoidable blindness. Our goal is to touch 4.2 lakh free surgeries every year by 2030 and continue to offer people the best available eye care treatment. We are today also one of the world’s largest free eye care providers, particularly in the rural areas of the country,” adds Dr Murali.

  • Murali: quality eye care to all

    Murali: quality eye care to all

The flagship initiative of the foundation, ‘Gift of Vision’ was initiated with the aim of reaching out to the rural community and ensuring timely eye care interventions to prevent and cure blindness, thereby providing the gift of vision. The programme reaches out to underserved communities needing comprehensive eye care services at their doorstep, through a well-trained team of field staff, doctors and paramedics. This is the oldest community outreach programme and was started in 1990.

The Rainbow Preventive Eye Care for Schools was launched over two decades ago, with an aim to provide eye care to school kids. Nearly 12,000 free surgeries have been performed on children under this initiative and 27,074 teachers have been trained as volunteers to date.  

 To empower young women in the poor socio-economic sections of society, the foundation launched Vision Care Technician Training, an ophthalmic vocational course, in 2002. Under this programme, meritorious high school graduate girls from disadvantaged sections of society are identified and trained in community eye care through a two-year diploma course. The programme is completely subsidised by Sankara and the selected candidates do not have to pay any capitation or tuition fees for the course.

Sankara also has its Maitri programme under which it ensures vision rehabilitation, which is the process of treatment and education that helps individuals who are visually impaired attain maximum function and a sense of well-being. In the rural and semi-urban scenario, Sankara launched its first ever eye care program ‘Rainbow’ for school-going children in 1996. Since then, this massive eye care programme has been focusing on providing a bright future to visually handicapped children.

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