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Vision-Aid Announces a New Center At Pune

The year 2020 started with a bang from Vision-Aid. A new Vision-Aid Center in Pune India was announced by Ramakrishna and Revathy Raju while they were visiting Pune. Pune, called “The Queen of the Deccan” is one of the major cities in the state of Maharashtra, India. It is a comparatively smaller sized city having a pleasant vibe, and less daunting than bigger tier 1 metros like Chennai and Bangalore. The weather is mild and the city has many interesting historic landmarks. Ram and Revathy visited Pune with the main purpose of identifying a location for a new Vision-Aid center . This center will serve the needs of not only the Punekars, as residents of Pune are known, but all of the surrounding regions in Western Maharashtra. 

Pune Center selection

Ram and Revathy were joined by Anil Saigal, who happened to be in Mumbai from Boston on a sabbatical.  The trio visted different prospective sites for the new Pune center.  The Saigals had decided to support the creation of a new Vision-Aid center in Maharashtra, in 2020 in the loving memory of Ranjani Saigal’s great father Dr. Aiyer. After surveying and researching many options, they finally shortlisted the Community Eye Care Foundation (CECF) in Pune as their first choice. The main purpose of their visit to Pune was to meet with the team, discuss various aspects of the project, get a direct look at their work, and to survey various sites in Pune for the Vision-Aid Center. 

Ram and Revathy in Pune

The founders were impressed with the CECF team. Headed by Dr. Parikshit Gogate, they have already established a very good track record of service in eye care in Pune. Not only in primary eye care and cataract surgeries but also in the field of low vision screening in primary schools and special schools in the region. 

They had a detailed discussions with the CECF team and were fascinated to learn about their grass-roots community outreach program which goes door-to-door in the poorest neighborhoods of Pune to perform eye care screening. Patients with visual impairment are then referred for proper followup to the appropriate eye care providers. The CECF community health care workers showed detailed maps of Pune, and explained their approach for eye care screening in the poorest slums where many patients can’t even read letters on an eye chart. It was astonishing to see such novel workarounds have to be devised to meet the objectives of eye care screening. 

Atharva Netralaya

Ram and Revathy visited 3 different sites, and after considering the pros and cons of all 3 of them, were inclined to the location inside Atharva Nethralaya, a unique, community based eye care center in Pune where 65 ophthalmologists jointly run a center for comprehensive eye care services. 

In  January 2020, the work for the Pune center will begin. The first step will be to sign an MOU. Thereafter, work will commence on the project, rolling out the different programs in the Vision-Aid model in phases. Vision-Aid is optimistic that this center will grow steadily over time, to serve the needs of not just Pune but all the surrounding parts of Western Maharashtra, where such services currently do not exist. 

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