In 2013, the Fund approved a grant of $473,679 to Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital (SCEH) in New Delhi, India to build sustainable capacity for training new vision technicians, ophthalmic nursing assistants, and patient counselors. The overall goal of the project was to produce a combined total of 150 such trainees over the grant’s three-year life. SCEH expected ultimately to hire most of the graduating trainees and to use these cost-efficient “physician-extenders” to drive a near-doubling of the hospital’s yearly volume of cataract surgeries.
By grant’s end, 225 new ophthalmic paraprofessionals had been trained, either at the renovated training center at SCEH’s Delhi headquarters campus, or at a newly constructed SCEH center in the state of Uttar Pradesh. In addition to clinical training, participants received instruction in English, computer skills, and life skills education (e.g., training in goal setting and critical thinking). On graduating, most students found paid work in their respective specialties at an SCEH hospital, with the remainder obtaining jobs at other Indian eye hospitals. SCEH reported that, by 2015, these new hires had helped it increase its volume of system-wide vision screenings and eye surgeries by 16 and 30 percent, respectively. In addition, by concentrating its trainee recruitment on young women from predominantly poor and rural areas, SCEH also meaningfully advanced its region’s economic welfare.