Chronic diseases and health promotion

Part Four - Taking action: essential steps for success

Chapter Two - The private sector, civil society and international organizations

Waking up to a vision - story of Kuzhanthiammal

Kuzhanthiammal, 67 years old, India (cataract)

Kuzhanthiammal began to worry two years ago when a white film clouding her left eye would not clear away. It was keeping her from working on her land and taking care of her teenage granddaughter. As for many poor Indians, a visit to hospital was out of reach, for both economic and geographical reasons. Soon after the first symptoms appeared, Kuzhanthiammal heard of an eye diagnostic camp that was taking place at a nearby village. She decided to attend, and within a few minutes was diagnosed and registered for free cataract surgery at the Madwai Aravind Eye Hospital the following week.

The programme even covered transport costs. "A bus picked me up with seven other cataract patients and drove us to the hospital," she says. Some 70% of Aravind's eye patients are charity cases; the 30% who are paying customers support these free sight-restoring operations. The hospital also sells abroad three quarters of the lenses it produces, to help finance its activities. Now 67 years old, Kuzhanthiammal successfully underwent surgery on her other eye a few months ago.
"These artificial lenses are a miracle. It's like
waking up with your problems gone," she joyfully explains.