Aravind Eye Care System wins top world prize for humanitarian aid

Aravind Eye Care System, the world's largest eye care provider, has been selected for the world's largest humanitarian prize - the $1.5 million Conrad N Hilton Humanitarian Prize - jurors said on Friday.

Aravind Eye Care System, more popularly known as Arvind Netralaaya, performs 300,000 free or subsidised eye surgeries a year for the poor.

Aravind was one of around 200 nominees for the prize, which is awarded annually to an organisation that does exemplary work to alleviate human suffering.

The award will be presented on 20 April in Redwood City, California.

The prize, instituted by the Hilton Foundation, set up by the late hotelier to help the world's poor, is being awarded each year since 1996.

Aravind Eye Care System is the largest and most productive eye care facility in the world, in terms of surgical volume and the number of patients treated. The hospital has revolutionised eye care system through hundreds of programmes across the developing world.

Aravind Eye Care System, founded in 1976 by the late Dr Govindappa Venkataswamy, today has five hospitals, three managed eye hospitals, a manufacturing center for ophthalmic products, an international research foundation and a resource and training center. Some 12 million of an estimated 45 million blind in the developing world are in India.

Past winners of the prize include the medical group `Doctors without Borders'; the agency fighting hunger, `Heifer International'; and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims.