Taking wealth out of health

Sagarmatha Chaudhary Eye Hospital

For the past 30 years, the Sagarmatha Chaudhary Eye Hospital in Lahan of Siraha district has been providing the cheapest cataract surgery in the world for just Rs1,200 per operation.

Thirty years ago when the hospital started, it had only 12 beds. It now treats 470,000 people every year with patients coming in from as far away as southern India and Bangladesh, and they pay the same amount as Nepalis. Just in the last three years, the eye hospital has treated 321,000 foreign nationals.

“It is possible to provide the services at an affordable cost because we are a non-profit, and have an economy of scale,” explains Abhishek Roshan of Sagarmatha Chaudhary Eye Hospital.

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The hospital has also set up 15 eye care centres throughout the district, and takes treatment directly to the people so they do not have to make the journey to Lahan. It has a separate department for paediatric services, care for newborn babies with vision problems. In 2021 alone, it performed 1,170 eye surgeries on children.

Apart from providing treatment of retina, cornea, glaucoma, oculoplasty, the hospital also serves as an international research centre, collaborating with institutions like The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The hospital subsidises its eye treatment for patients with revenue from its agribusiness ventures. A part of the hospital’s land is dedicated to fish farming, and an orchard for litchi and mangoes, as well as a bamboo grove.

“Income from those ventures help us keep the cost of treatment down,” says Roshan. The hospital is also supported by Christian Blind Mission (CBM), the European Commission and Arvis.

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