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Indian hospital an eye-opener to community service

Dr Rakesh Shukla – 

During a visit to India early this year, my wife Kiran and I were introduced to Dr Sushil Chaudhary and his wife Dr Rewa Chaudhary, both of who have spent more than 30 years of their life helping hundreds of thousands of poor people regain eyesight.

Their ‘ICARE Hospital,’ owned and operated by Ishwar Hospital Trust in Noida, about 25 kms from the heart of New Delhi, also provides free eye surgery and treatment to poor people and those whose eyes are affected by accidents and ailments.

Impressed by the selfless service rendered by the Chaudhary couple, we decided to celebrate on-the-spot the 100th birth anniversary of my late father Dr P D Shukla by sponsoring 100 cataract operations.

Humble beginning

Indian hospital an eye-opener Photo 1 Web (1)During 1982, Dr Sushil Chaudhary was running his private clinic in Delhi and also screening poor patients from slums of Delhi free of cost.

Using a nominal amount of money left for him by his late parents, he started Ishwar Charitable Trust.

In 1993, the government gave him 4500 square meters of land in Noida to expand his ophthalmic clinic for the poor.

He opened ICARE Hospital, which, from a modest beginning, has grown to perform about 20,000 eye surgeries every year. Out of these, about 15,000 operations are only for poor and needy people, who are brought from neighbouring villages in the hospital’s vehicles.

They are looked after for two or three days with beds, food, medical care and required surgery. Thereafter, they are transported back to their respective villages. All services are rendered free of cost. Even those who are willing to pay are charged only the direct costs incurred by the hospital.

Noble Mission

Indian hospital an eye-opener Photo 1 Web (2)ICARE Hospital’s mission is ‘Progress towards eliminating preventable blindness.’

It is relevant to note that there are about 45 million blind people in the world and about 30% of them (15 million) are in India.

It is a known fact that 80% of blindness is treatable.

The main causes for blindness are Cataract (63%), Refractive Errors (20%), Glaucoma (7%) and other causes including accidents (10%).

Out of estimated 15 million people suffering eye sight problems in India, tragically, nearly 12 million remain untreated. More than 80% of untreated people reside in rural areas.

Given these depressing figures, it is very encouraging to note that ICARE Hospital is making a modest but wonderful effort by working tirelessly and providing free service to the poor and needy.

Free services

There are three ways in which ICARE helps the poor: (1) Free ophthalmic services by sending doctors to neighbouring villages of Delhi (2) Free camps in nearby villages to create awareness about eye care and treatment and (3) Training medical and paramedical personnel from India as well as overseas in ophthalmic services.

The hospital accounted for nine foreign students during my visit.

ICARE is one of the highest eye surgeries performing charitable hospitals in India. It has over 30 highly qualified eye doctors, over 90 paramedical staff, 30 support staff, and many full-time and part-time volunteers.

The hospital is equipped with latest eye equipment, most of them donated by reputed organisations such as Manos Unidas (Spain), Sightsavers (India), Operation Eyesight Universal (Canada), Rotary Clubs, Government of Japan, Help the Aged (UK), Pfizer (USA), Glaxo Smith & Kline (UK) and government and private undertakings.

Ensuing plans

The hospital intends to increase the number of eye surgeries for the poor from about 20,000 now to 100,000 by 2025, with an interim target of 55,000 by 2020.

ICARE is also aiming to have ten secondary eye centres in villages by 2025 with capacity for small eye surgeries.

It may sound unbelievable, but it costs just Rs 3000 ($65) to perform a cataract surgery and only about Rs 12,000 ($265) to perform a complicated surgery of Retina, Cornea or Glaucoma.

References: www.icarehospital.org; https://youtu.be/YiEOv3lztZA

Dr Rajesh Shukla (PhD) lives in Auckland. For further information and donations, please contact him on 021-686078. Email: rks.esgrp@gmail.com

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Photo:

Dr Rajesh Shukla and his wife Kiran sponsored eye surgery and treatment for 100 poor men and women at ICARE Hospital in Noida, near New Delhi to commemorate the birth centenary of his late father Dr P D Shukla during his visit early this year.

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