Wednesday, May 20, 2009

First few days at work

Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Three days into my internship, and I can already get a feel of how hectic it's going to be in the coming 2 months. But maybe that's not how I should've started this post because it might mislead some of you.
So let me go in a systematic order. The work that ICARE is doing is fabulous. Through their pyramidal structure (that includes eye care at Primary, Secondary and Tertiary level) they provide their services to more than 3 crore people (estimated from the brochure and other reference materials). This includes eye check up, referral to a high centre if the problem cannot be cured at a particular centre, spectacle delivery etc. They also have tie ups with companies such as Vision Spring (erstwhile Scojo).

On my first day I went through the paper that started it all, called the Andhra Pradesh Eye Disease Study[APEDS] (The paper can be found here ). The study gave a comprehensive analysis of 4 areas of Andra Pradesh (one urban and 3 rural of which one was well off) and showed the prevalence of blindness there. The results were also presented on the basis of sex, socio economic status, age etc. This study gave rise to the ICARE models which have set up centers in almost all districts of Andhra Pradesh and whose models are being adopted by organisation all over the world (For example Australian Government's "Avoidable Blindness Initiative" recently decided to implement the Vision Centre model of ICARE).
The projects undertaken by the center are also massive. At present they have some 12-13 projects running which include Community Linkage for Integration of Primary Health, Rapid Assessment of Refractive errors, Sight for Kids, Diabetes prevention programmes amongst many others. The projects (a lot of which are CSR initiatives) are funded by some of the biggest organisations in the health as well as financial services.

What I am interested in though is sustainability of these centres since LVPEI is a not for profit organisation. LVPEI has always believed in quality eye care and equity and hence the services provided to the poor and the rich are the same. At the secondary and tertiary level, 50% of the services are paid by patients who have the ability to pay in a three tier fee structure and the remaining 50% services are provided free of cost to under privileged patients. LVPEI claims that the centers can provide services upto 70% to non paying patients and yet be sustainable.

If true, then this is an awesome initiative for they have a revenue model in place but with a philantrophic touch to it. I find this really fascinating and the fact that LVPEI and ICARE have been in existance for so long bears testimony to the fact that this model is sustainable. However, I would like to examine this from a closer level to validate that.
Apart from that, I am also brushing up with a lot of statistical and econometric models to further assist me in the project that I take up. Some pretty exciting projects are lined up for me here, the trouble being I can take up only one due to the time constraint.
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