Cataracts are the leading cause of needless blindness worldwide, accounting for more than 50% of the world's blind. 90% of the world's cataract blind live in the developing world, and continue to live a life of needless blindness either because they are unaware of treatment, cannot afford treatment, or are unable to access treatment.
As one of Nepal's most underdeveloped districts, the people of Kalikot District live on the brink of poverty. Many of the municipalities within the district are yet to be connected by road, making it a treacherous task for people to access healthcare or eye care.
Therefore when someone's vision starts to deteriorate, they will live a life of needless blindness as a tip to the nearest hospital will take at least two days to reach, and set them back several thousands of rupees - which many families cannot afford.
This situation has been seen by the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation, and many similar foundations, repeatedly and the argument for intervention is now rife. By setting up screening camps and microsurgical camps, foundations like the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation are making a tangible difference on the ground.
Screening Over One Thousand
On 6th November, a team from the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation left for Raskot from Surkhet to organise screening camps across the region. They were joined by Manisha Baral, a local Ophthalmic Assistant who serves an area of 682 sq km and a population of 56,764.
Baral expressed concerns to members of the team over the prevalence of people living with cataract blindness in the area, and how experts like herself do not have the ability to cure those living with needless blindness. "Every time I identify a patient living with cataract, I have to refer them to the local hospital at Surkhet. At many times, this is not the best suggestion because many people cannot afford to make the trip, which means they will continue to live a life of needless blindness due to poverty", she shares.
She was excited to take part in the camp and herself along with two members of the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation team staged 13 screening camps. They journeyed across tricky terrains, walking village to village to screen as many people as possible for cases of cataracts. Altogether, the team screened 1,108 people and those identified to be living with cataracts were invited to the microsurgical camp on the 12th and 13th of November.
As transport around rural Nepal is limited due to very little infrastructure, the journey from Surket to Raskot took the team 10 hours. After a gruelling journey, the team had to walk uphill and across streams for the remaining leg of the journey, carrying their equipment to the hospital the microsurgical camp was staged at.
Lugging medical supplies, equipment and diesel is no easy task, however the benefits of the cause far outweigh the tribulations of the task.
Once the team arrived at the hospital, there was no time for hesitation and they began putting together the operating theatre in preparation of the hundreds of patients who would be arriving the next day.
Surgeries began on the the following day and patients who had travelled the camp, including many on their caretakers back, were ushered into the operating theatre for their sight-saving surgery.
As the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation believes in #RetrainRegain, the doctors have been trained on how to perfect Dr Ruit's intraocular lens surgery, a method that takes just seven minutes. Harnessing this method means that in ten minutes, patients are patched up and sent to the general hall where they spend the night before their patches are removed the next day.
The success of the teams work can be seen in the numbers - 80 surgeries on day one; 77 surgeries on day two. A total of 152 surgeries across two days is something that everyone at the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation is very proud to share. By combatting cases of needless cataract blindness, our goal is to eliminate extreme poverty and help contribute towards the UN's #1 Sustainable Development Goal.
To read about Tej Kohli as an investor visit Kohli Ventures.
Find out more about Tej Kohli: Tej Kohli the technologist investing in human triumph, Tej Kohli the philanthropist trying to cure the developing world of cataracts and Tej Kohli the London tycoon with a generous streak.