P. Namperumalsamy, MD was nominated by the All India Ophthalmology Society to receive this year's Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award.
Dr. P. Namperumalsamy is one of the founding members of the Aravind Eye Care System (AECS). AECS was established in 1976 as a modest eleven-bed hospital and has grown to enormous proportions. The mission of AECS was to "eliminate needless blindness by providing appropriate, compassionate and high quality eye care to all."
Over the past three decades Aravind has restored or preserved sight in over 3.5 million people with over 70% of them receiving care either for free or at a subsidized rate. During 2010 and 2011, Aravind performed over 300,000 surgeries and handled over 2.5 million outpatient visits. This makes Aravind the largest provider of eye care worldwide. Through its network of eight eye hospitals located in Tamilnadu and Pondicherry, Aravind contributes to 35% of the cataract surgeries performed in the state of Tamilnadu and 5% of all national surgeries. They have been able to achieve this scale through the principle of providing large volume, high quality and affordable services in a sustainable manner.
As one of the founding members of a team of three ophthalmologists, Dr. P. Namperumalsamy played an active role in developing Aravind's outreach strategies. The cornerstone of Aravind's high volume work is their outreach program, encouraging active involvement from the community. Working within a large community network Aravind conducts over two thousand eye camps and performs around 76,000 free cataract surgeries each year.
An innovative initiative of Dr. Namperumalsamy to extend urban eye care amenities to people was setting up of permanent rural vision centers in the villages and providing quality care through an unique telemedicine system. This service to the underserved population was started in 2004 and extends to 41 centers at present.
Having realized that India has the largest diabetic population, next only to China, Dr. P. Namperumalsamy has launched programs to fight against diabetic retinopathy in concurrence with the directive from VISION 2020 – The Right to Sight initiative by WHO and IAPB. Special diabetic screening outreach camps are organized utilizing mobile vans equipped with modern imaging systems and satellite connectivity and developing software for reading and grading images.
Dr. Namperumalsamy has received numerous awards, including the Padmashree Award by the government of India (1997), the Lifetime Achievement Award by the All India Ophthalmological Society, the Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Dr. B.C. Roy National Award (2006) in the category of Eminent Medical Teacher. Time Magazine honored Dr. Namperumalsamy as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" in its May 2010 issue.
Dr. Namperumalsamy sacrificed his personal life to serve the community and underserved populations in the prevention of blindness. Even from the beginning he drew a meager salary for himself in order to build Aravind, a nonprofit organization. He has been described as a tireless worker, dedicating six or more days a week to his various roles at Aravind for nearly 50 years. His natural people skills, innate intelligence, and tremendous leadership have enabled him to succeed at a level that could not have been imagined when he and others first started Aravind.
For his dedication and commitment to provide high quality eye care and service regardless of economic status, the Academy is proud to announce Dr. P. Namperumalsamy as a recipient of the Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award.