Friday, January 31, 2014

Aravind Eye Care to set up hospital in Nigeria

From an 11-bed hospital in Madurai started by Dr Govindappa Venkataswamy (better known as ‘Dr V’), the late founder-Chairman of Aravind Eye Hospital, the eye-care institution is now setting up its first overseas venture, in Nigeria. 

In partnership with Nigeria’s Chanrai Group, the hospital is expected to be the largest eye-care facility in Africa, said S. Aravind, Director (Projects) with Aravind Eye Care System. 

Scheduled to go operational in 2015, the hospital expects to do about 10,000 surgeries annually.
The 37-year-old Aravind Hospital will bring in its eye-care expertise, while the funds will come from the local partner, Tulsi Chanrai Foundation (TCF), he added. 

TCF is run by a section of the Chanrai family, whose business interests range from textiles to agricultural products. 

The Chanrais also run eye-care programmes in India, besides being a trustee of Mumbai’s Jaslok Hospital. 

Responding to why the largely Tamil-Nadu-centric Aravind Group opted to set up shop in Nigeria, Aravind said the organisation has been doing projects on and off in Nigeria, in terms of training doctors, and hence the familiarity with the region. 

The organisation has trained most of the ophthalmologists practising there, he pointed out.
Africa needs a model that works within its ecosystem, and the new venture hopes to build local capacity, he said. 

India and Africa have similar population profiles, but India does 10 times more cataract operations, he observed. Nigeria has a population of about 170 million and a requirement of about 8 lakh eye-related surgeries. 

Chennai hospital

Aravind Eye Care is also setting up a Rs 140-crore hospital near Chennai. It has acquired the land and is awaiting building approval, said Aravind. 

With similar operational timelines as the Nigeria hospital, the Chennai hospital will, however, have a larger capacity of about 60,000 surgeries a year. 

The group has been conservative in its outlook because of its philosophy to go with its own funds. “We are going to grow, but it would be tempered,” he said, adding that it did not want to grow without a control on the services offered. 

The group also has four partnership projects — with the Rajiv Gandhi Chairtable Trust in Amethi, another in Lucknow, the Birlas in Kolkata and Sun Pharma promoter Shanghvi Trust in Amreli (Gujarat).
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