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In 1960, when there was no concept of any speciality hospital in the country, the Ispahani Islamia Eye Institute and Hospital (IIEI&H) was incorporated as the first single organ healthcare institution in Bangladesh. Since then and over the time, it happened to be the lead referral & teaching hospital having all sub-specialties of Ophthalmology. IIEI&H serves over a million patients annually the many of whom coming from the remote corners of the country.

The institute and hospital is undergoing a noble and holistic transformation, that seeks to enable quality eye healthcare provision regardless of patient means. Having recently secured the Hospital of the Year Award for Bangladesh in the Healthcare Asia Awards 2019, the not-for-profit’s remarkable expansion and transformation has not gone unnoticed. Mridul Kumar Sarkar, CEO at the institution, has propelled significant operational and structural changes since he took charge in October 2015. “When I came here, the scenario was completely different,” he says. “Some systems were almost non-existent, we had to work very hard for a paradigm shift in bringing both those systems and a positive culture. That work was completed within two years, and we then realised the true strength of this organisation.”

During Sarkar’s tenure, the organisation has expanded its presence from four hospitals to 21, and boosted its staff headcount from 565 to around 1,150 – 125 of whom are full-time doctors of various disciplines. “Besides ophthalmologists, we also have cardiologists, anaesthesiologists, clinical pathologists and microbiologists to support the safe and quality clinical services.

Besides it directs services to the patients through it’s main and peripheral hospitals , it has been providing nationwide services in eye care through by putting major intervention in creating Ophthalmic manpower of various strata. As Mr. Sarkar continued, “Since 1992 it has created 259 ophthalmologists which stands for 25% countries total strength and 643 ophthalmologists for Cataract surgical training (50% of total strength). The hospital has led the Bangladesh eye care to enter into sub-speciality era since 2011, which was the dire need of the time 2011.

151 ophthalmologists for in sub-specialities was created of whom 63 were international. “One of the unique things in our fellowship is the number of surgical cases that we offer, along with the one-to-one coaching that our institute provides.  Mr. Sarkar adds.

The country, and the global ophthalmology community, historically lacked dedicated ophthalmic nurses and midlevel ophthalmic personnel: a challenge which IIEI&H has also taken. The hospital produced 170 midlevel ophthalmic technical personnel, midlevel technical skill training to 149 technicians and provided ophthalmic Nursing training to 463 home nurses.

Alongside all those midlevel training program including optometry diplomas, from August 2020, we will offer BSc and MSc optometry courses. Ophthalmic Nursing is a very demanding discipline,” elaborates Sarkar. “Across the global eye hospital fraternity – whether it is London, the United States, Europe or other Asian countries – there is truly a scarcity of trained ophthalmic nurses.” Sadly, “eye” is still a least priority organ even for clinical service providers. Conventional nursing curricula too hardly given due emphasis on Ophthalmology. Nursing grads are eventually being trained on job in Ophthalmology. However, retention of such skilled force is great challenge. Therefore, IIEI&H is contemplating to introduce School of Nursing in Ophthalmology in 2020. Eventually, it will culminate to seamless eyecare operation.

Focusing on Quality Standards for such a large Not for Profit Hospital is distant dream more so when people are not covered with health insurance.. Patient safety despite all measures is also an issue.  IIEI&H is all set for International Gold Quality Accreditation by Q4 of 2019.  This is indeed a landmark achievement and would showcase a visible model for other healthcare organization to follow.”

Simultaneously, hospital is undergoing the process of paperless by introducing advanced ERP to offer multi-faceted benefits not only to uplift the quality of services and accelerating green environment, but also to reduce our service delivery time- line and optimal utilization of resources. This will perfectly complement the new Quality Standards, meet international safety and our clinical research goals.”

The dynamics of IIEI&H has always tuned with futuristic alignments.  IIEI&H is already engaged in leveraging various data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) for research and hospital management purposes.

Our commitment is to make services available for all who needs irrespective of their social position or paying capacity. “We want to ensure that eyecare is affordable for everyone,” reiterates Sarkar. “And we strive to make  available at global standards”.

“To realise the vision of excellence in eye care across the globe and particularly for the underprivileged” CEO says, “it is the craft of blending of heads and hearts is key to the success of our mission.