Aravind Eye Care to set up hospital in Nigeria

The Madurai-based Aarvind Eye Care in partnership with Nigeria's Chanrai Group is setting up its first overseas venture in Nigeria.

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 become operational in 2015, the hospital expects to do about 10,000 surgeries annually.

Aravind said his organisation has been doing projects on and off in Nigeria, through training of doctors and is familiar with the region.

In fact, he said, Aravind Eye Care has trained most of the ophthalmologists practising in that country.

''Africa needs a model that works within its ecosystem, and the new venture hopes to build local capacity,'' he said.

Nigeria has a population of about 170 million and a requirement of about 8 lakh eye-related surgeries, he said, adding that India does 10 times more cataract operations.

While Aravind Eye Care will bring in its eye-care expertise, funds will come from the local partner, Tulsi Chanrai Foundation (TCF), he said.

TCF is a charity of the Chanrai family that also runs eye-care programmes in India, besides being a trustee of Mumbai's Jaslok Hospital.

The Chanrai have business interests ranging from textiles to agricultural products.

Aravind Eye Care is also setting up a Rs140-crore hospital near Chennai, which will have a larger capacity of about 60,000 surgeries a year. Land has been acquired and the hospital is awaiting building approval, said Aravind.

The group has been conservative in its outlook because of its philosophy of using own funds and ensuring quality of service. ''We are going to grow, but it would be tempered,'' he said.

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).

Started as an 11-bed hospital in Madurai by founder-chairman Dr G Venkataswamy (better known as 'Dr V'), Aravind Eye Hospital, the hospital being set up in Nigeria is its first overseas venture.

Aurolab, the manufacturing division of Aravind Eye Hospital, supplies high quality ophthalmic consumables at affordable prices to developing countries.