The fame of Biratnagar Eye Hospital has spread far and wide, attracting patients from various neighbouring countries. Hospital staff overcome the language barrier by using sign language. Recently, a woman from Bangladesh had come for an eye check-up. The doctors had to gesture a lot while they gave her a proper examination, but everything went fine.
The Bangladeshi woman is just one example of how eye hospitals in Biratnagar have been attracting patients from nearby countries. “The patients visiting us are from countries like Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka besides India,” said Dr Sanjay Singh, director of the Eastern Regional Eye Care Programme at the hospital.
The growth in foreign patients is due to its reputation for curing eye problems. Earlier, there was only one eye hospital in the region, Ram Lal Golchha Eye Hospital. Now there are four - two in Biratnagar and Lahan operating with the support of the Christian Blind Mission, Birat Eye Hospital and Tapadia Eye Care.
In the last five years, Biratnagar has emerged as another destination for eye treatment after the capital Kathmandu. Shailendra Raj Nepal, communications officer of Tapadia Eye Care, said that Biratnagar had been offering treatment based on modern technology which is not different from what is available in other parts of the world.
Besides providing service to local patients, eye hospitals here have been treating a huge number of patients from Bihar, India at reduced charges. This has saved Bihari patients from having to travel to Kolkata, Delhi or Chennai to get their eye diseases treated at huge cost. For a hospital being run by the private sector, they have maintained good physical infrastructure and human resource management to be more credible.
The hospitals here have investments ranging from Rs 100 million to Rs 600 million. Patients have benefited from the increased competition among hospitals to introduce new technology and expand services. Last year, 505,000 patients were treated at the eye hospitals here.