The Nepal Weekly (April 27, 2021)
A new alliance of Tej Kohli and Sanduk Ruit will work together to give sight to 1 million people who lost sight. The missions of Ruit and Kohli to combat blindness by closing the pervasive treatment gap within the world’s poorest communities. The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation will combine Ruit’s technical expertise for delivering large-scale low-cost cataract surgeries with Kohli’s experience of funding grassroots projects worldwide. 100% of the operating costs will be funded by Tej Kohli and the Tej Kohli Foundation.
The sexagenarian duo will instigate and fund the training and deployment of new outreach teams of ophthalmologists, ophthalmic paramedics and technicians to perform high volume cataract outreach surgeries. During its first year both men hope that the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation will attain a run-rate of screening 200,000 patients and curing 60,000 people of blindness each year.
The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation will conduct its first high volume cataract outreach surgeries in the highly symbolic location of Lumbini in Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha, where the not-for-profit organisation will cure 300 to 400 individuals of cataract blindness during a four-day mission. A second surgical camp will be in Solukhumbu, in the foothills of Mount Everest, and will aim to cure 150 local people of blindness. The both surgical campaigns are to be accomplished till mid April this year.
The Tej Kolhi and Ruit Foundation also plans to despatch its outreach teams on missions to deliver free cataract surgeries in territories including Nepal, Northern India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, North Korea, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Lebanon and Syria. Each mission will see the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation create community eye treatment camps to treat hundreds of local people for free.
The social and economic impact of the cataract surgeries will be documented in each region visited to support a longer-term goal of establishing and funding a network of permanent community eye hospitals by training local technicians during each outreach mission. The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation will also fly in volunteer ophthalmologic specialists from the United Kingdom to support its eye camps.
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, accounting for half of the world’s 40 million blind. The majority of the world’s 20 million cataract blind live in the developing world. 5 million new cases of cataract blindness occur each year.
Cataract blindness causes severe economic and social problems. But only a small percentage of people who develop cataracts receive cataract surgery because they live in communities where they cannot access or afford healthcare information or treatments. Worldwide reductions in extreme poverty have increased longevity and population growth in many of the world’s poorest countries. However, this also means that the number of untreated cataract cases is escalating very rapidly.
Sanduk Ruitis an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) from Nepal who has restored the sight of over 130,000 people across Africa and Asia using small-incision cataract surgery. He is also one of the founders of the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology.
For his work in taking quality, life-transforming cataract surgery to the poorest, he has been referred to as the “God of Sight”.
In 1994, Ruit helped found the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology which provides free treatment to those who cannot afford to pay. It manufactures high-quality intraocular lenses for surgery at a fraction of the price of its previous manufacturing cost. The extremely low cost of these lenses have made quality cataract surgeries affordable to the poorest population.
Ruit was awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding, considered to be the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, for “placing Nepal at the forefront of developing safe, effective, and economical procedures for cataract surgery, enabling the needlessly blind in even the poorest countries to see again.”
In 2018, the Government of India awarded him the Padam Shri, its fourth highest civilian award, for “innovation in the 1980s [that] led to a 90 percent reduction in the cost of cataract eye surgery, provides low-cost cataract surgery lenses to over thirty countries.”
The Tej Kohli Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that is committed to rebuilding people and communities around the world by developing scientific and technological solutions to seemingly intractable human problems. The Tej Kohli Foundation is also committed to making direct interventions that change lives by funding grassroots community programmes with a range of objectives.
Interventions by the Tej Kohli Foundation have restored the sight of tens of thousands of the world’s poorest people who were living with blindness. The Tej Kohli Foundation has also provided bionic arms to disabled teenagers, provided sustainable food sources to thousands of families and continues to fund scientific research and innovations. In person, Tej Kohli is an India-born notable entrepreneur and philanthropist based in Costa Rica. Currently he is working as the CEO of a software development firm, Grafix Softech, and is engaged in several philanthropic ventures through his Tej Kohli Foundation which is helping out the underprivileged children in Costa Rica and India. Tej Kohli owns another company, Ozone Real Estate Group in Dubai, which has launched some real estate projects in Dubai, one of which is Cassi Bay Tower.