Traditional Missions Hospitals often struggle financially, as continuous fundraising is necessary unless the organization can become self-sustaining. In ophthalmology, numerous centers in South Asia such as Aravind, LV Prasad and Tilganga have demonstrated that cross-subsidization can lead to sustainability by offering varied services (such as phaco vs. Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery, or refractive surgery instead of glasses) patients with funds are willing to pay for and using the revenue to subsidize the poor. This approach can lead to a self-sustaining institution and has great applicability in medical missions, especially in ophthalmology. Taking an academic approach to it, with an emphasis on training programs in eye care and research provides opportunities for discipleship in addition to ministry opportunities with patients and communities.
Drs. Scott Lawrence, Demissie Tadesse, Emebet Getahun and I are in the process of implementing this model in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia