In the days following the April 2015 earth, Dr. Sanduk Ruit, Nepal’s leading ophthalmologist and co-founder of the Himalayan Cataract Project, remarked,
“This is one of the worst natural disasters in my lifetime. There are thousands who have been left homeless in many parts of Nepal where life is much more difficult…We at Tilganga and the Nepalese people are moved by your generosity, faith, and love for the work we are doing.”
18 months later, the Himalayan Cataract Project and Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology (TIO) continue to be amazed and moved by our donors’ support, faith and love. Over the course of this project, nearly $12,000 were raised by our Global Giving donors allowing the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology relief teams to deliver critical food aid and temporary shelter to 8 of the hardest hit regions in Nepal. Over 170,000 lbs. of food were delivered throughout rural Nepal as well as basic supplies including 2,600 tarps for temporary shelter, medicine, oral rehydration solution, soap, and flashlights. Tilganga’s own doctors and staff dedicated their time and energy to delivering these critical necessities to the villages they know so well through their ophthalmologic work.
Following the initial relief, TIO continued with phase II of its recovery plan – the repairing of damaged Community Eye Centers and building of temporary shelters in three of the hardest hit regions. This includes repairs to the Dolakha Community Eye Center and construction of a landslide retaining wall to prevent further damage in the event of future earthquakes or natural disasters. Over 110 temporary living shelters were completed to provide housing for local residents. Tilganga also provided reconstruction grants to members of its own staff who lost their houses in the earthquake to allow staff the ability to rebuild or move.
Tilganga will continue to lead the way for Nepal’s reconstruction – the work is far from over. However, the past 18 months has demonstrated the strength of the Nepalese people and their remarkable ability to overcome challenges. The Himalayan Cataract Project and Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology greatly appreciate the support of all our donors in ensuring a stronger Nepal and will continue to live up to your generosity, faith, and love through our ongoing work in Nepal and throughout the world.
In August, Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP) partners at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), led by Dr. Seth Lartey, organized a cataract outreach event in the town of Aburi, which is located in the Eastern Region of Ghana. This involved weeks of screening of potential patients throughout the region, transportation of equipment and staff, and consecutive days of performing cataract surgeries from morning to night. All of that hard work was worth it, however, as the KATH team was able to provide 324 cataract surgeries to Ghanaians of all ages.
Among the many patients was a young boy who had developed a cataract in one of his eyes and was badly in need of surgery (pictured above). Upon having the bandage removed post-surgery, he said, “I feel normal, nobody will ask me about my eyes again. I am happy to go back to school. My friends won’t make fun of me anymore.”
The KATH team has been dedicated to steadily increasing their cataract outreach efforts in 2016. Including the event in Aburi, KATH has provided a total of 1,292 surgeries so far this year. This is more than double the 645 surgeries they provided via outreach events in all of 2015. It is an amazing accomplishment, and HCP looks forward to seeing them continue to grow in the upcoming years.
HCP and its partners are dedicated to eliminating unnecessary blindness due to cataracts. Cataract surgery is a relatively simple procedure that takes 10 minutes and approximately $25 in consumable costs. However, it is estimated that 50,000 cataract surgeries are required each year in Ghana to eliminate the backlog of those suffering from cataract blindness. There is still work to do, and HCP and KATH thank you for your continued support in this endeavor!
June thru September is Nepal's monsoon season. Heavy rains and limited infrastructure result in fewer local outreaches. Tilganga capitalizes on these lighter months to conduct on-going training and evaluation of its domestic projects as well as conduct hands-on training programs internationally.
Dr. Reeta Gurung, Chief Executive Officer of the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, recently returned from a hands-on corneal transplant workshop in Indonesia. Tilganga has been working with partners in Indonesia since 2012. In Indonesia, cornea transplant surgery is an uncommon surgery performed only by very few skilled eye surgeons. Dr. Gurung operated on the patients, assisted by local doctors Dr. Teguh Metaputra and Dr. Muhammad Irsan, both of whom had received cataract surgical training at Tilganga. Cornea tissue was sourced from the Nepal Eye Bank.
Tilganga’s Chief Training Officer, Krishna Shrestha, along with senior nurses Sharma Sobha and Shanti Bajraacherya, conducted a hands-on Train the Trainer (TOT) program for Ophthalmic Nurses in Ethiopia. Conducted during a high-volume cataract event at Arba Minch General Hospital in southern Ethiopia, the three Nepali trainers worked with 5 ophthalmic nurse managers from across Ethiopia to demonstrate best practices and outreach management techniques.
In Nepal, Tilganga’s outreach manager, Mr. Khim Gurung along with other trainers traveled to Manag Community Eye Center, one of six community eye centers supported by HCP. Tilganga’s community eye centers play a crucial role in providing basic eye care services and education to remote communities who otherwise would not have access to any ophthalmic care. During their 1 week stay, they conducted a site visit for an upcoming surgical outreach and provided training to 13 female community health volunteers (FCHV). Tilganga’s approach of training women in the community to conduct primary eye care screenings provides both a source of income as well as an effective means of reaching women and children who might otherwise be marginalized in more traditional rural communities.
Tilganga and HCP continue to be grateful to our supporters continual support and is thankful to report an active and productive monsoon training season!