Mithilesh Yadav, My Republica, February 12, 2019
LAHAN: Blindness is counted among one of the most prevalent disabilities in Nepal, affecting thousands of people across the country. However, people have reasons to believe that treatment of eye-related ailments is getting more affordable and accessible at the same time.
Lahan of Siraha district is emerging as one of the most prominent centers to seek eye treatment. On its 36th anniversary, Sagarmatha Choudhary Eye Hospital of Lahan published a report which revealed that it treated over 450,000 patients in one year.
By the end of 2018, the hospital treated a total of 466,549 eye patients, the report stated. Out of the total, as many as 58,478 eye patients underwent eye surgery. Among them, 45,692 adults had undergone cataract surgery.
Likewise, 2,202 children underwent pediatric cataract surgery, 1,115 patients had glaucoma surgery and 2,786 underwent surgery for cornea.
The report is significant because it makes the hospital hold the record for performing the highest number of successful eye surgeries in Nepal. It makes the hospital hold an exemplary status not just in Nepal, but also in the world.
According to Avishek Roshan, the hospital's manager, they are able to attract a huge number of patients due to their quality of service, affordability and all kinds of convenience. “These qualities have contributed to our hospital's growth.”
Sagarmatha Chaudhary Eye Hospital collects its revenue by charging minimal service charge to its patients and accepting donations and funding from donors. As many as 15 eye specialists work in the hospital. In total, the hospital has 320 employees, including doctors and administrative staff.
However, many of those who are from well-off families choose to go to India for eye treatment. On the other hand, many people from the neighboring India visit Sagarmatha Choudhary Eye Hospital for treatment, making it one of the top destinations.
Around 60 percent of all patients visiting the hospital on a daily basis are from India, according to the manager. Not just from India, people from Bangladesh also equally trust the hospital for its reliable and affordable services.
Furthermore, the hospital has created lots of employment opportunities for the locals. Along with employment opportunities, the hospital has a reputation of zero disputes with its patients.
The not-for-profit hospital has been offering various kinds of services. Under its Eastern Regional Eye Treatment Program, they are running services that include simple eye check-ups to performing complicated surgery that are usually only available in developed countries.
For instance, it offers services ranging from cornea transplant, cataract surgery, glaucoma surgery, oculoplastics surgery, ocular prosthesis (planting artificial eye), and other services and surgeries targeting both adults and children alike. One can perform cataract surgery for just Rs 1,200, along with necessary medicines and living cost.
“The hospital offers full check-up for mere Rs 48. Furthermore, retina surgery, which costs Rs 12,000, is cheaper than in most of the countries,” said Manager Roshan. “For the same surgery, it could cost Rs 24,000 to Rs 200,000 elsewhere,” he added.
Likewise, it cost Rs 13,000 for cornea transplant surgery, which is also very economical in comparison.
According to the hospital's administration, economical costs for check-up and treatment make Sagarmatha Choudhary Eye Hospital very affordable and assessable to the mass. The hospital is considered the best in terms of services available, the number of successful surgeries as well as expertise and quality of the service provided.
“Our services and facilities are affordable to people of all financial backgrounds. We also do not compromise on our quality of service just because it is cheaper. It is wrong to think that one can get the best treatment only by paying highly expensive price,” added the manager.
Data in the report shows how much the hospital has grown over the years. In 2017, the total number of patients received by the hospital was 345,000. Among them, 60,000 people had performed surgery. Likewise in 2016, the hospital received 338,545 patients out of which 54,000 underwent eye surgery.
The hospital is expanding its services in other parts of Madhes as well as the hills. It has opened 11 eye treatment centers in various parts of the country in a bid to make their service more accessible. They have set ambitious objective to contribute greatly in the campaign for eradication of blindness.