The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation, an NGO headquartered in London and Kathmandu, is celebrating passing the milestone of curing 30,000 people of untreated cataract blindness within impoverished and marginalised communities in Nepal, Bhutan and Ghana.
The NGO is targeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ending extreme poverty by making large-scale grassroots surgical interventions that enable cured patients and their families to return to education and to social and economic activity. 90% of the world’s blind reside in low-income communities within the developing world.
The 30,000th patient was 60-year-old Belmati, who was cured in the Bahjang District, a remote and under-resourced region of Nepal where the population lacks access to basic healthcare and education. Belmati was carried by her husband on his back for over two hours to reach a microsurgical outreach camp where she joined 252 patients who underwent surgery to cure cataract blindness. All 252 left the next day able to see again.
Whilst in the Bahjang District, teams from the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation were also able to re-visit sisters Kunti, aged 7, and Reshma aged 13, who were cured of blindness by the NGO in December 2021. Having previously dropped out, both young girls had returned to school. Their mother, who had previously been a full-time-carer for her blind daughters, has been able to return to work and to earn a living to keep her family fed and warm.
“Making direct and large-scale interventions to cure untreated blindness is the fastest way to combat extreme poverty, with some studies suggesting a 1,500% socio-economic return on the cost of surgery during the first postoperative year. This problem is vast. My hope is that the example being set by our NGO and our delivery partners will mean that others with even greater resources will join us in our mission to cure as many as 500,000 people by 2030.” Tej Kohli, co-founder of the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation.