Cradled amidst verdant hills, about 350 km from Guwahati, the ‘due diligence’ process of a potential CIIE investee took me to Jorhat, the city that is the cultural capital of the north-eastern state of Assam. As we drive further eastwards towards Sibasagar, September rains, persistent clouds and long stretches of green veil the manifold sufferings of people here, and deteriorating eye-health is just one of them.
The story of poor eye-health in this area is one of neglect, deprivation and also in recent years, a story of hope. Since time immemorial, concerns related to the eye have been habitually pushed to the back-burner, while those who have indeed come forward to seek a solution, have been deprived of the services. The ‘eye’ being a sensitive, delicate, and vital organ, requires specialty chains or hospitals with eye-care as a specialty department – and more often than not, this comes at a cost that is beyond the affordability of an average household.
A flurry of new players has brought in a ray of hope – the affordable, quality-focused eye-care chains, to be precise. Even during the fleeting drive, at least three vision centres popped up through my car window. In my mind, I can see a silver line, but something tells me that this only addresses the ‘deprivation’ part, the supply side of providing the service. The uphill journey still remains, which is to address the age-long attitude of neglect in the community towards eye problems – the demand side of the picture.
Our potential investee is a case in point here. Through a perfectly tailored, standardized training solution that uses technology, expertise of medical practitioners, tablets, and seamless delivery ensured through low-bandwidth specifications, this start-up is all set to create a cadre of frontline healthcare workers, ready to be the game changers. Co-founded by two passionate individuals, this start-up is already creating ripples in the small crucible of Sibasagar. The day is not far when in collaboration with several other affordable eye-chains, it will be the front-runner in bringing new waves of change in community behaviour through the trained health workers.
At the same time, a new strain of employability is on the cards. The Indian healthcare sector, despite being largely outreach heavy, has an amorphous, unorganized frontline workforce. The training-cum-certification intervention is a baby step forward to defragmenting it, making it more employment-ready and imparting industry-specific capabilities. Retrospectively, my visit to Sibasagar was perfectly timed to witness these changing times, and the change-agents in action on ground. To be a part of CIIE is to be a part of this exciting process of moving forward creatively.