Tej Kohli and Sanduk Ruit are two of the biggest names in the fight to cure blindness in the world’s poor and underserved communities.
Sanduk Ruit (66) is an ophthalmologist from Nepal who has restored the sight of 130,000 people across Africa and Asia using small-incision cataract surgery.
The new ‘Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation’ will despatch outreach microsurgical eye clinics to provide free cataract surgeries in the world’s poorest communities.
LONDON & KATHMANDU: A new alliance will unite the longstanding missions of Sanduk Ruit and Tej 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.
Together the pair of sexagenarians 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 & Ruit Foundation will attain a run-rate of screening 200,000 patients and curing 40,000 people of blindness each year.
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation conducted 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 cured 312 individuals of cataract blindness during a four-day mission commencing on 30 March 2021. A second surgical camp was held in Solukhumbu, in the foothills of Mount Everest, and cured 178 people of blindness in April, 2021. The foundation has cured 9,854 people of blindness as of December, 2021.
The Tej Kolhi & 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 &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 &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 povertyhave 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 Ruit, said:
“Unfortunately, there remains a huge need in the world for the kind of accessible free treatments that we will provide. Now we have the passion, expertise and resources to tackle this problem on a completely new scale. For Tej Kohli and I this is about achieving something greater than we could ever dared to have imagined. We have already identified 40,000 future patients in Nepal and 40,000 in India.”
Tej Kohli, said:
“When you cure someone of blindness you give them a second chance at life. They can be economically active. They can enjoy and look after their family. Yet millions of people in the world remain blind because they do not have access to treatment. Everyone deserves their second chance in life and this alliance with Sanduk Ruit means that we focus on potentially helping over a million people in need.”
About Sanduk Ruit
Sanduk Ruit is an ophthalmologist from Nepal who has restored the sight of over 130,000 peopleacross 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 world’s poorest people, he has been referred to as the “God of Sight”.
In 1994, Ruit helped to 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 has made quality cataract surgeries more affordable to the world’s poorest populations.
Ruit was awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding, considered to be the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, for his work enabling the needlessly blind inthe poorest countries to see again. In 2018, the Government of India awarded Ruit the Padma Shri, its fourth highest civilian award.
About Tej Kohli and the Tej Kohli Foundation
Tej Kohli is a London-based technologist and investor whose interests also include global real estate. He is the largest individual esports investor in Europe after committing €50m as part of a$100m total investment into Switzerland-based Rewired. Tej Kohli set up the Tej Kohli Foundation in 2005 after founding and then selling a series of companies clustered around online payment technologies.
Between 2015 and 2019 theTej Kohli Cornea Institute in India welcomed 223,404 outpatients and delivered 43,255 surgical procedures for free. In 2019 Kohli donated $2m to support scientific breakthroughs at Mass Eye and Ear in Boston to fight blindness using new nanotechnology and DNA hybridization techniques.
Amongst its many projects the not-for-profit Tej Kohli Foundation has provided funding for a COVID-19 vaccine in the USA; has consistently operated free canteens to feed children in Costa Rica since 2005, and since 2019 the Tej Kohli Foundation has provided free bionic limbs to disabled teenagers in the United Kingdom.