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Himalayan Cataract Project E-News: March 2012

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:

  • Co-Director Dr. Sanduk Ruit visits Utah to deliver keynote address at “Night for Sight”
  • HCP board meeting on March 23
  • Co-Director Dr. Geoff Tabin delivers keynote at Utah’s Center for Global Surgery
  • HCP hosts administrators from partner institutions in Ghana and Nepal for USAID/ASHA workshop and management exchange
  • Tilganga Refractive Surgery Unit successfully implements telemedicine program
  • Upcoming Events

    • Nepal – April 7 - Opening Ceremony of Refractive Surgery Unit 
    • Ethiopia – May 1 – 12  - High Volume Cataract Intervention
    • Ghana – May 13 - Opening of new eye center at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital 

  • HCP and Dr. Tabin featured in Elevation Outdoors

Dr. Sanduk Ruit delivers keynote address at “Night for Sight”

On Saturday, March 24, Dr. Sanduk Ruit delivered the keynote address at the 4th Annual “Night for Sight” fundraiser to an enthusiastic crowd of over 400 at Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah. Dr. Ruit was hosted by Dr. Randall Olson, (HCP board member; Professor, Chairman and Director, John A. Moran Eye Center) and the Moran Eye Center, where Ruit is an Adjunct Professor and where Co-Director Dr. Geoff Tabin is Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Director of the Division of International Ophthalmology. Dr. Ruit was recognized for his blindness alleviation efforts and his personal accomplishment of providing over 100,000 cataract surgeries. A reception was held the night before in his honor at the Alta Club in Salt Lake City.

Dr. Ruit was interviewed by the Deseret News on March 23 before the event, and by Fox-TV13 after the event. See the coverage on their websites by clicking the links above.

HCP partner Mr. John Dau, of the John Dau Foundation, spoke at both events about the impact of the recent cataract workshop at the Duk Lost Boys Health Clinic in Duk County, South Sudan, in December (see our December newsletter).

Click this link to download the event program [PDF, 585Kb].

Dr. Tabin introduces Dr. Ruit at Night for Sight.
Dr. Ruit delivers the keynote address.
Dr. Ruit at the event.
The HCP team gathers for a photo at the event.

March 23rd HCP board meeting

HCP board members gathered for a meeting on March 23 at the Moran Eye Center in Salt Lake City. Pictured are Dr. Sanduk Ruit, Dr. Matt Oliva, Dr. Geoff Tabin and Dr. Hugh Taylor.

Dr. Geoff Tabin delivers keynote at Utah’s Center for Global Surgery

On March 22, Dr. Geoff Tabin delivered a speech titled “Impossible Dreams: The Ascent of Everest and Eradicating Blindness” at the Center for Global Surgery’s Extreme Affordability Conference in Salt Lake City. The conference focused on innovations for providing sustainable, affordable surgery, globally. For more details, visit the conference website.

HCP hosts administrators from partner institutions in Ghana and Nepal for a workshop and management exchange

HCP's Job Heintz visits legislators in Washington to discuss ASHA program.

Fred Mensah from Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, Ghana, and Rabindra Shrestha of Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Kathmandu, Nepal, participated in a three-day USAID/ASHA workshop at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) is a program within USAID that funds schools and hospitals dedicated to promoting American ideas, principles and practices. Since 2003, HCP has received approximately $5.7 million in ASHA grant awards on $10.6 million in total infrastructure investments for our partner institutions in Nepal and Ghana.

Following the USAID/ASHA workshop, Mr. Mensah and Mr. Shrestha traveled to Utah to participate in an exchange with administrators at the Moran Eye Center. They met with the Moran’s Executive Director Mr. Wayne Imbrescia to learn more about operational practices of US institutions in addition to attending the “Night for Sight.”

Fred Mensah and Rabindra Shrestha at the Capitol.
Rabindra Shrestha (left) and Fred Mensah at the Capitol.
Nancy Lindborg, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance.
USAID/ASHA workshop speaker Nancy Lindborg, the Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance.
Rabindra Shretha (right), Pam Clapp and Fred Mensah.
Rabindra Shretha (right), Pam Clapp of HCP, and Fred Mensah at USAID/ASHA conference.

Tilganga Refractive Surgery Unit successfully implements telemedicine program

In Tilganga's RSU.

In late February, Dr. Glenn Carp of the London Vision Clinic visited Tilganga in Kathmandu with Zach Dickenson, a laser technician, and Eleanor McPhun, a patient care coordinator, to train a second Tilganga technician and to help implement improved efficiency in managing the patient flow and clinic systems at the new Refractive Surgery Unit.

“I must point out that the facilities at both the new refractive unit as well as the main ophthalmic hospital were to say the least outstanding and could easily fit in any “first world” environment. The strive for clinical excellence was clearly apparent and the commitment, attitude and clinical acumen of the staff was exemplary.”  —Glenn Carp, Ophthalmologist, London Vision Clinic

Tilganga’s Dr. Kishore performed more than 50 procedures including both LASIK and SMILE procedures with no complications and comparable results to those done in London. SMILE is the latest version of LASIK whereby the same amount of tissue is removed but no flap is created resulting in a quicker and safer recovery. Since Dr. Carp’s return to the UK, London Vision Clinic and Tilganga have implemented a successful telemedicine system to review and provide advice for both pre- and post-operative patients as needed.

Upcoming Events

Nepal / April 7: Opening Ceremony of Refractive Surgery Unit

Himalayan Cataract Project Advisory Board member Dr. Dan Reinstein of London Vision Clinic Foundation (LVCF) will return to the Tilganga to participate in the official launch of the new Refractive Surgery Unit on April 7. The Unit has been renovated with support from USAID/ASHA, HCP and LVCF. Drs. Ruit, Tabin, USAID representatives and other dignitaries will also be in attendance.

Ethiopia / May 1 - 14: High Volume Cataract Intervention for Research on Economic Impacts

The Himalayan Cataract Project has undertaken a three-year initiative with the RAND Corporation to assess the costs of blindness and the economic impact of cataract surgery. As part of this project, there will be a high-volume cataract surgical intervention in Woldiya, Ethiopia, in early May during which 1,000 patients will undergo cataract surgery. The patients as well as a control group with inoperable cataract or other inoperable blinding conditions will be followed for over a year to measure the impact of sight restoration. HCP Board Members Drs. Geoff Tabin, Matt Oliva and Sanduk Ruit will participate in the surgical intervention, along with HCP partner Dr. Tilahun Kiros and his team from the Quiha Eye Hospital in Mekelle, Ethiopia, and local ophthalmologist Dr. Alemu Kerie of Woldiya, Ethiopia.

Ghana / May 13: Opening of new eye center at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) and HCP receives second USAID/ASHA grant for equipment

The new surgical eye center at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) will be inaugurated on May 13. HCP has been working since 2007 to establish this center of excellence for West Africa in collaboration with USAID/ASHA. As part of the inauguration, there will be a meeting of the broader Ghanaian ophthalmology community to celebrate this milestone. HCP will be joined by partners from the Moran Eye Center who have been working with KATH ophthalmologists for over a decade.

HCP has received a commitment for over $600,000 in additional support from USAID/ASHA for ophthalmic equipment and furniture for the new eye center.

Construction scene in February.
Construction scene in February.
Construction scene in March.
And in March.

HCP featured in Elevation Outdoors

Elevation Outdoors featured an article by HCP friend Timmy O’Neill titled “The Gift of Sight,” highlighting his travels with Geoff Tabin, assisting in outreach eye care events. O’Neill has traveled with Dr. Tabin multiple times and he shared his experience at an HCP event in Nigeria.

“Typically these large volume cataract clinics involve the pre-screening of a large dispersed population who commonly walk to the site, followed by often hundreds of surgeries with exhaustive long days and nights. Tabin and his partners have expanded on the parachute model, of drop-in, fix-up and fly-out, to include not just the legacy of sight but also of infrastructure.”

Read more of the article online.

An eye exam in rural Nepal.
An eye exam in rural Nepal.

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.