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Himalayan Cataract Project E-News: July 2012

Dr. Hailu Somega Yewubnesh
Dr. Hailu Somega Yewubnesh of Ethiopia (on the right) in the operating room at Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Nepal. Read more in the first news item below.

Here you will find news on the latest international eye care activities from the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP). This month’s newsletter includes summaries on the following:

HCP-Supported Training

  • Ethiopian ophthalmologist completes Fellowship
  • Ghanaian nurse receives pediatric sub-specialty training at LAICO
  • Ophthalmic tech from Ethiopia departs for Nepal training


  • News article features work of Drs. Ruit and Tabin
  • Dr. Tabin speaks about affordability and sustainability in eye care
  • New paper by HCP Affiliated Ophthalmologist published in Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery


  • HCP is recruiting runners for Ethiopian trail race to support cataract outreach in Tigray
  • HCP launches Twitter & Facebook pages
  • HCP supporter visits Tilganga in Nepal
  • Young HCP donors hold Fourth of July fundraiser

HCP-Supported Training

Ethiopian ophthalmologist completes Fellowship at Tilganga

Dr. Hailu and Tilganga doctors.
Dr. Hailu (on left) and Tilganga doctors.

Dr. Hailu Somega Yewubnesh from Arbaminch Hospital in Ethiopia successfully completed a one-year cornea and external disease fellowship with the Himalayan Cataract Project. The final rotation included a three-month, hands-on training and clinical exposure in Nepal at the HCP’s flagship training center, the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology (TIO).

HCP has been working with Dr. Hailu since 2010 when she participated in a six-week Small Incision Cataract Surgery course at TIO. Since then she has hosted HCP affiliated ophthalmologists at her home hospital, Arbraminch, for several high-volume cataract interventions.

The experience I have is tremendous and I can say it is the best experience I have ever had. My contribution during the training as such is nothing but after this training I am sure it will have a great impact on the prevention of blindness in SICS and cornea.” 

“My interest in ophthalmology started in my final year of medical school after visiting some of the blind people in southern region of my country. Most of the causes of blindness in that area were trachoma-related corneal opacity and cataract. These people were begging in the street because of their blindness and were discriminated against. So I decided to join ophthalmology in order to contribute to the reduction of blindness in my country.”   —Dr. Hailu Somega Yewubnesh

Dr. Reeta Gurung, Tilganga’s Deputy Medical Director, and Dr. Hailu.
Dr. Reeta Gurung, Tilganga’s Deputy Medical Director (on left), and Dr. Hailu.
Dr. Hailu.
Dr. Hailu.

Ghanaian nurse receives pediatric sub-specialty training at LAICO

Yaa Serwaa Amaniampong

Ghanaian ophthalmic nurse Yaa Serwaa Amaniampong is half-way through a three-month pediatric ophthalmology training program at Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology in India. In the photo above, she is in the operating room, applying eye dressing and bandages to a child after a cataract surgery.

Ophthalmic tech from Ethiopia departs for Nepal training

Gebremichael Aregay, an ophthalmic technician from Quiha Zonal Hospital in Ethiopia, departed on July 31 for four weeks of ophthalmic technical training at Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Kathmandu, Nepal. She will learn to maintain standard ophthalmic equipment as well as well as diagnose common problems.



Feature article is published about HCP co-directors Dr. Geoff Tabin and Dr. Sanduk Ruit

Drs. Ruit and Tabin.
Drs. Ruit and Tabin.

The Salt Lake Tribune published a feature story on July 23 about Himalayan Cataract Project co-directors Dr. Geoff Tabin and Dr. Sanduk Ruit.

The article focuses on their tireless work aimed at eradicating blindness in Nepal, where Dr. Ruit is based at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology. The paper reports, “Today, Tilganga is considered a world-class surgical facility, training institute and ground-breaking clearinghouse for cornea transplants.”

In the article, Dr. Tabin described the transformative moment for patients after eye surgery.

“I never lose my excitement for that moment, especially people who have no idea they are going to regain their sight. There’s disbelief and recognition and emotion. It makes me so excited to be a doctor, every time.”  —Dr. Geoff Tabin

You can read the article online at the Salt Lake Tribune website.

Dr. Tabin speaks about affordability and sustainability in eye care

Dr. Geoff Tabin.
Dr. Geoff Tabin.

HCP Co-Director Dr. Geoff Tabin recently spoke at the Extreme Affordability Conference at the University of Utah, where speakers addressed challenges to the ecosystem of surgical care and offered tested and innovative solutions. Dr. Tabin’s talk focused on the sustainable eradication of blindness, and it can now be viewed on YouTube. (Select the top video on HCP’s YouTube "favorites" page, here.)

Dr. Tabin’s keynote addressed what is needed for sustainable eye care. “You have to have [surgical] quality that is second to none. You have to have a perceived quality in the local providers,” he said.

In addition to specific eye care intervention events, HCP spends much of its time training local doctors and eye care professionals while helping to create and support eye care facilities in areas where none existed.

New paper by HCP Advisory Board member published in Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery

A paper co-written by HCP Advisory Board member Dr. David Chang has been published in the August edition of Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery.

The purpose of the paper was to analyze the rate of intraoperative complications, reoperations, and endophthalmitis with phacoemulsification, manual small-incision cataract surgery (SICS), and large-incision extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE). The setting for the study was Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai, India.

“Dr. Haripriya and I believe that this large retrospective study should help end the debate about the appropriateness of teaching M-SICS as a first procedure to newly training cataract surgeons in the developing world. We are glad that we can finally share the study and conclusions with you, and we hope that this will help bolster the widening support within ophthalmology for this approach that we all advocate. Needless to say, the surgical outcomes at Aravind are truly amazing. To document lower endophthalmitis and capsular rupture rates than most published series with this patient population, while including all trainee surgeons is a spectacular achievement. Proudly, Tilganga is one of the few institutions in this same league.”   —Dr. David Chang

Download the paper here [PDF, 231Kb].



HCP is recruiting runners for Ethiopian trail race to support cataract outreach in Tigray

Accelerate Ethiopia logo

HCP is seeking runners for Ethiopia’s first ever trail ½ marathon set to take place from February 22 – March 3, 2013. HCP has partnered with imagine1day, a Canadian NGO working in Ethiopia, to develop a unique running experience that will provide runners with an opportunity to participate in a high-volume cataract event and interact with a beneficiary primary school. Funds raised will support HCP and imagine1day programs in Ethiopia. For more information, visit

HCP now on Twitter, in additon to Facebook

  • Follow us on Twitter!
  • Like us on Facebook!

Last month we told you that the Himalayan Cataract Project had a new Facebook page (don’t forget to “like” our new page!). Now we’ve added a Twitter feed! If you use Twitter, be sure to follow HCP on Twitter!

Do you enjoy receiving this e-newsletter? If so, please suggest to your friends and family that they subscribe to receive the e-newsletter, here.

Using e-mail and social media helps us spread our message farther and wider. Thank you for supporting our work and sharing our news with friends!

HCP supporter visits Tilganga in Kathmandu

Simrin Das, a high school student from Northern California, traveled to the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology to see some hard work paying off after her high school club, called Stand Up! Speak Up!, raised enough money to cover 95 sight-restoring surgeries.

I visited Tilganga Eye Hospital because I not only wanted for SUSU to support a good cause by raising money and bringing awareness, but I also wanted SUSU to see and experience how our hard work and effort was used to bring happiness and life back to people in third world countries.   —Simrin Das

Simrin Das meets Dr. Sanduk Ruit.
Simrin Das meets Dr. Sanduk Ruit.
Simrin and eye patients at Tilganga.
Simrin and eye patients at Tilganga.
Simrin unfurls her club's fundraising banner at Tilganga in Nepal.
Simrin unfurls her club's banner in Nepal.

Young HCP donors hold Fourth of July fundraiser

A big thank you goes out to young HCP supporters Camille and Chase of Waterbury Center, Vermont, who sold lemonade on the Fourth of July to raise money for our programs. They’ve done this for the past few years. Thanks so much!

Young HCP supporters hold Fourth of July fundraiser

Young eye patients in Ghana.
Young eye patients in Ghana.

The Himalayan Cataract Project works to eradicate preventable and curable blindness through high quality ophthalmic care, education and the establishment of a world-class eye care infrastructure.

Please visit our Web site at to keep up with the latest HCP news. There you will also find information on HCP’s finances, its founders, staff and board members, and ways that you can give the gift of sight.

Remember, through the Himalayan Cataract Project it takes a gift of only $20 to provide life-changing cataract surgery to someone struggling with blindness in the developing world.