30 March 2021 – 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 60,000 people of blindness each year.
The Tej Kohli & 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 commencing on 30 March 2021. A second surgical camp will be in Solukhumbu, in the foothills of Mount Everest, and will aim to cure 150 local people of blindness between 11 and 13 April.
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 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.
“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 dare to have imagined. We have already identified 40,000 future patients in Nepal and 40,000 in India.”
“Second chances matter. 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. This alliance with Sanduk Ruit means that we focus on potentially helping over a million people in need.”