Himalayan Cataract Project: Remote Eye Camps

by Himalayan Cataract Project, Inc.
Himalayan Cataract Project: Remote Eye Camps
Himalayan Cataract Project: Remote Eye Camps
Himalayan Cataract Project: Remote Eye Camps
Himalayan Cataract Project: Remote Eye Camps
Himalayan Cataract Project: Remote Eye Camps
Himalayan Cataract Project: Remote Eye Camps
Himalayan Cataract Project: Remote Eye Camps
Himalayan Cataract Project: Remote Eye Camps
Himalayan Cataract Project: Remote Eye Camps
Himalayan Cataract Project: Remote Eye Camps
Himalayan Cataract Project: Remote Eye Camps
Himalayan Cataract Project: Remote Eye Camps

 

In order to understand and maximize our impact, the HCP Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) team carefully tracks all of our program data.

The MEL team measures indicators essential to the improvement of eye care programs, including surgical outcomes, improvements in eye sight, tracking health worker training, and logging the number of surgeries our partners provide. The information is used by HCP and our partners to make our work more efficient and effective, all with the goal of delivering the highest quality care possible to the needlessly blind.

HCP has recently expanded its data capacity, bringing on MEL Specialists in Ethiopia and Ghana, and working closely with MEL staff at partner institutions in Nepal and Bhutan.

HCP MEL Manager Nick recently hosted a virtual training session with this wider team to kick off a number of new initiatives. The team discussed changes to data governance and management, the importance of maintaining patient privacy, a revamped patient consent process, new data collection protocols, and strategies to ensure data quality. The team is focused on testing a global data standard for cataract surgeries, and on rolling out uniform data collection practices at outreach events around the world.

The MEL staff meets once a month to plan data collection, troubleshoot challenges, celebrate successes, and lessons learned. By aligning our data collection processes between partner institutions in many countries, we are able to generate high quality data which allows us to identify and share best practices throughout our partner network. Lessons learned in one country can help partners elsewhere, so opening up dialogue between our partners is an important way that HCP supports improved training and health outcomes for the communities we serve.

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In addition to celebrating our 25th year, a true highlight of 2020 was a milestone we reached together with scores of implementing partners around the world - surpassing 1 million surgeries! From our beginnings in the Himalayas to restoring sight in more than 20 countries, we are so grateful to you and all of our friends whose compassion made 1 million sight-restoring surgeries possible.

We remain committed to the work we started 25 years ago - caring for those most in need, no matter how remote and regardless a person’s ability to pay. Nothing could better capture that ethos than Tilganga’s CEO and master trainer, Dr. Reeta Gurung’s trip to Saipal in far western Nepal to treat 511 patients in December, providing 56 sight-restoring surgeries and distributing 380 pairs of glasses. Many in the village had never received eye care and spent years in darkness.

The interruption of global pandemic and the adjustments our programs has been significant - sourcing critical PPE, providing education and support to our network of partners, and right-sizing our outreach cataract campaigns to reflect the Covid-constraints. Fortunately we have been able to continue with our infrastructure and provision of critical equipment & consumables.

We kept pace with a number of essential capital projects to support local sustainability - including launching the Bahir Dar Specialty Eye Center in Ethiopia, supporting Tilganga’s operating theatre expansion in Nepal, and equipping a long-time partner and eye center in northern India.

Without a doubt, 2020 provided highs and lows, setbacks and successes, challenge and triumph. While Covid-19 had a profound impact on our world and our efforts to eradicate needless blindness in areas that need it most, it did not stop our work. In fact, Covid-19 has meant the need for eye care is all the more urgent.

Finally, it would be hard to top New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s characterization of our work, in his November 22nd column, “I’ve seen many humanitarian interventions all over the world, and there’s almost nothing so cheap, rapid and transformative as cataract surgery. It feels biblical, as the blind see again — and recover their lives.”

We enter 2021 as committed to delivering life changing eye care to some of the world’s most vulnerable populations than ever before. Thank you for your support. 

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Scanning the surrounding mountains with newly-unbandaged eyes Pyaru Bohora, a 77-year-old patient exclaimed, “Oh, it’s morning! I can see now!” Her happiness could be felt rising like the warmth given off by the morning sun. Pyaru, a resident from Bajhang, was under the expert care of Dr. Reeta Gurung, CEO of Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology.

 

 

The Rural Municipality of Saipal is home to less than 3,000, and eye-related problems affect 25% of the population, mainly due to unavailability of services. Many of the patients have gone 10 to 12 years without any treatment.

 

Pyaru, who had been silent before having her sight restored, remarked, “There are so many people around. How do I recognize all these people dressed in red, black, and yellow dresses? Where are they from?”

 

Dr. Gurung pointed toward a teenage boy and asked Pyaru if she recognized him. Pyaru looked at him for a moment before replying that she did not. Someone from the crowd then indicated that the young boy is Pyaru’s grandson who had carried her to the camp.

 

“Birendra, you have grown so big,” said the grateful grandmother, unable to hold back the tears of joy that rolled down her face. Pyaru’s grandson was very small a decade ago when she lost her sight.

 

People at the outreach were moved as Pyaru blessed Dr. Gurung for restoring her sight so late in her life.

 

“You brought me back from the grave and showed me light. I wish you a very long life,” she said. “I have no money. If I had some, I would offer it to you.” Dr. Gurung’s eyes teared upon hearing the kind words from Pyaru.

 

Nearby, a 60-year-old patient sang and danced to celebrate the restoration of her eyesight after five years of darkness. Another patient, a 55-year-old from Dhuli commented that, “It feels like someone has opened doors during sunrise. My world has become bright now...I feel motivated to live longer.”

 

During the two-day outreach in October, 56 patients received sight-restoring cataract surgery. In addition, 380 pairs of glasses were distributed. A total of 643 patients were screened to determine if surgical intervention or glasses could improve their vision at the event organized by Geta Eye Hospital and District Hospital, Bajhang.

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Bhutan Outreach 2020
Bhutan Outreach 2020

Thanks to so many of you, Himalayan Cataract Project is able to support our partners in Bhutan as they resume eye care and surgical outreach.

As with most of the countries where HCP works, Bhutan suspended all but emergency eye care at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant thousands of Bhutanese waiting to regain their sight had to wait even longer.

By virtue of its isolation, Bhutan has had a low incidence of COVID-19 cases and has had no virus-related deaths. With safety precautions in place, our partners in Bhutan are resuming cataract surgeries slowly and carefully, attending to patients in smaller numbers to reduce the risk of infection to patients and providers.

Two outreaches were held simultaneously during the second week in June:

---Tsirang Hospital (central Bhutan - 41 Total Surgeries)
---Lhuentse Hospital (eastern Bhutan - 16 total surgeries)

Because of you, 57 grateful people may now resume their lives, work and care for their families free of the burden of blindness. Many more will follow. Additional outreach events at Trongsa Hospital and Tashigang will take place in July, and in Phuntsholing later this year.

It is the goal of our partners in Bhutan that all 20 districts in the country will have an eye camp providing cataract surgical services by December. They anticipate completing 760cataract surgeries over 13 outreach events by the end of 2020.

You provide hope to so many needlessly blind people waiting to regain their sight. Thank you for your commitment to the people of Bhutan, and for empowering our partners to adapt and succeed in a changing global healthcare landscape.

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The 16-bed facility will offer specialized eye care services to the entire country

On October 29, HCP Co-Founders, Dr. Geoff Tabin, Dr. Sanduk Ruit and CEO, Job Heintz attended the inauguration of the Gyalyum Kesang Choeden Wangchuck National Eye Centre - the new eye hospital in the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, on the eastern edge of the Himalayas. The hospital was inaugurated by Her Majesty Gyalyum Kesang Choeden Wangchuck, the Queen Grandmother of Bhutan.

Made possible by a magnanimous gift from WEN Giving, the 16-bed tertiary hospital will offer a variety of specialized in-patient and out-patient eye care services with three operating theaters that will tend to the population of the entire country, a total of almost 1 million people.

The new hospital is a collaboration between HCP, Dr. Sanduk Ruit and the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, the Royal Government of Bhutan and WEN Giving. In addition to serving the entire country, the hospital will also provide clinical training for eye care providers to further strengthen the national eye care system of Bhutan.

The Himalayan Cataract Project has worked in Bhutan since 2000. At that time, Dr. Getshen was the only ophthalmologist in the country. With early support from generous donor, HCP partnered with the Royal Government to develop a national eye health care program. Over the past two decades, HCP has supported specialized training for all eight practicing ophthalmologists and dozens of paramedical staff and provided support for outreach services throughout the rural and mountainous regions.

HCP is thrilled to be a part of this historic achievement and looks forward to taking another step to end needless blindness across the world.

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Organization Information

Himalayan Cataract Project, Inc.

Location: Waterbury, VT - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @CureBlindness
Project Leader:
Geoff Tabin
Director
Waterbury, VT United States
$85,180 raised of $100,000 goal
 
998 donations
$14,820 to go
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