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November 12th 2018
Published: November 11th 2018
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Nov 12, 2018 (Dhaka, Bangladesh) A little insight about the reason for this trip - something that originated from a discussion I had with Scott Burg, a long term colleague and friend who is a senior researcher for Rockman ET AL. There are three of us on this research trip: Scott, myself and Dr. Nancy Sloan, a primary-care practitioner in Portland, OR with an interest in gender-equality in medical services. Scott conducts research and evaluation studies for education, health, museum and technology clients. An area of great interest and expertise includes the organization and effective deployment of blindness prevention programs and he researches capacity building for eye care in developing countries. Through his research with India's Aravind Eye Care System, he met Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder of BRAC (a leading INGO based in Bangladesh). More about BRAC later, but this is the world's largest NGO, with over 100,000 employees. It is distinguished in the breadth of its mission and its ability to scale effective programs, integrating itself in the communities it serves and issues of gender equity. They are highly successful across many areas, and have a dedication to poverty reduction. More recently they have started targeting eye care and solving challenges at the grass roots level, largely adopting the model of eye care developed at Aravind and seeking to optimize it leveraging the platform it has created across its other enterprises. The focus in Vision Care Centers (VCCs) where mid-level ophthalmic technicians become a community-embedded front line access point to the eye care system. They are still in the optimization phase of the vision-center strategy, but it has been endorsed, adopted and supported by government, academic and the eye-care NGO community. Scott is researching and writing about their model and keys to their success and I'm here to understand how their Social Innovations Group might be able to leverage information technology to optimize the accessibility and quality of eye care delivered in the VCCs. In that light, with tremendous help from BRAC staff, Scott has put together an impressive meeting agenda with BRAC personnel and leadership, eye care leaders in government and the private sector and a second phase where we'll visit the Aravind Eye Care System in Madurai India next week. As is typical, I learn much more than I contribute on these trips as evidenced in a full day of insightful meetings yesterday.

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