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Himalayan Cataract Project E-News: November 2011

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 Procurement – A new program
  • Progress in Bhutan
  • Dr. Tabin speaks at Ophthalmological Society of West Bengal 42nd Annual Conference
  • “In the News”

    • The Himalayan Times – Dr. Ruit’s efforts to bring down the cost of cataract Surgery
    • The Nepali Times – Quality eye care in Nepal
    • The Jakarta Globe – “Famed Eye Surgeon Turns Sights on Indonesia”
    • NPR –  News report on HCP Affiliated Institution, Aravind Eye Hospital

  • Cataract Workshop in India provides 501 sight-restoring surgeries
  • HCP partner in Ghana provides much needed care in remote area
  • Refractive Surgery Unit renovations at Tilganga near completion
  • Social entrepreneur launches new business while supporting HCP
  • Give the Gift of Sight for the holidays

HCP Procurement – A new program

Bill Shields, Chief of Procurement
Bill Shields, Chief of Procurement, on the right, with a team from Tilganga.

On November 1st, the Himalayan Cataract Project added a new program to improve the sourcing of ophthalmic equipment for program sites, as eye care activities are increasing throughout the Himalayas and Sub-Saharan Africa. HCP Procurement will be led by Bill Shields, Chief of Procurement, and Rowan Burke, Procurement Manager.

Prior to establishing the HCP Procurement program, HCP contracted with Bill Shields to support the purchasing, mapping and maintenance of over $2,000,000 worth of ophthalmic equipment, supplies and furniture for the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology.

Rowan Burke, Procurement Manager
Rowan Burke, Procurement Manager.

Bill has over 35 years of experience in this field and brings a rare combination of ophthalmology, engineering and management expertise. Bill and Rowan work out of a recently secured office space in Silver Springs, Maryland.

“Bill and Rowan have been invaluable to our work in Nepal and Sub-Saharan Africa, providing expertise and world-class ophthalmic equipment at considerable savings.” 
—Job Heintz, HCP CEO

Progress in Bhutan

Co-Director Dr. Geoff Tabin was in Bhutan this month to provide follow-up training to former HCP Fellows and to visit the Primary Eye Care Programme that HCP supports in collaboration with the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB). HCP signed its third 5-year agreement with the RGoB in 2010 and is focused on direct care, outreach, equipment provision and training of eye care personnel. 

Currently Dr. Bhim Rai is finishing his 15-month vitreo-retinal fellowship at Tilganga and will return to Bhutan in January as the country’s first vitreo-retinal specialist. As Dr. Rai prepares to return to Bhutan, he overlaps with two other Bhutanese trainees who recently arrived at Tilganga for paramedical training in vitreo-retina. HCP is working to procure critical equipment to support Dr. Rai’s subspecialty practice, which will be based at the National Hospital in Thimpu.

Dr. Bhim Rai with a patient.
Dr. Bhim Rai with a patient.
Training in Bhutan.
Training in Bhutan.

Dr. Tabin speaks at Annual Conference of Ophthalmological Society of West Bengal

On Sunday, November 27, Dr. Geoff Tabin delivered the keynote “Impossible Dreams – Everest and Eradicating World Blindness” at the 42nd Annual Conference of Ophthalmological Society of West Bengal - India, in addition to judging the Dr. B. K. Mitra FP Award and the top 6 Videos. Read more about the conference by following this link.

The Himalayan Times – Dr. Ruit’s efforts to bring down the cost of cataract surgery

Himalayan Times

The Himalayan Times reported in November that HCP Co-Director Dr. Sanduk Ruit has been collaborating with a Swiss manufacturer to reduce the cost of a phacoemulsifcation machine used in cataract surgery, thus reducing the cost of cataract surgery. Read more at The Himalayan Times website.

The Nepali Times – Praise for Dr. Ruit’s contribution to eye care in Nepal

Nepali Times.
Dr. Ruit in surgery.
Dr. Ruit in surgery.

The Nepali Times reported in late-November that the quality of eye care in Nepal continues to improve, and they wrote:

“In addition, ophthalmology in Nepal has been blessed with the likes of Sanduk Ruit, the eye surgeon with impressive dexterity who has stunned the ophthalmological world and brought lasting impact on eye health in Nepal and neighbouring countries.” Read the article online at The Nepali Times website.

The Jakarta Globe – “Famed Eye Surgeon Turns Sights on Indonesia”

Jakarta Globe

The Jakarta Globe published a feature story on Dr. Ruit on November 30, describing how the doctor is working with a Singapore charity to lead surgical missions and train local doctors and health-care workers in Indonesia.

“My plan is to wipe out preventable blindness in Asia by 2020,” said Dr. Ruit. Read the article in The Jakarta Globe, here. Read more about HCP Co-Director Dr. Ruit, here.

NPR – News report on HCP Affiliated Institution, Aravind Eye Hospital


On November 29th, NPR broadcast an 8-minute segment on the Aravind Eye Care System, in Madurai, India. The segment highlighted Aravind’s clinical productivity — over 300,000 surgeries per year — and its successful efforts to make ophthalmic supplies affordable and accessible. HCP board members have been collaborating with Aravind colleagues on clinical practices for many years. We have sent numerous trainees from our partner institutions through Aravind’s LAICO hospital management program and clinical training programs, and utilize Aurolab ophthalmic supplies for our training and outreach work in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Click on this link to hear or read the story.

Cataract Workshop in India provides 501 sight-restoring surgeries

For the second time this year, Dr. Govinda Paudel and a team from the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Nepal traveled to Jagadguru Kripalu Charity Hospital, Uttar Pradesh (UP), a remote location in India, to manage a cataract workshop in conjunction with local ophthalmologists. A total of 501 cataract surgeries were provided.

HCP has supported work in the UP since 2007, and each year the number of cataract surgeries provided at the outreach workshops has increased. HCP has committed to adding two additional high-volume cataract workshops in 2012 in India due to the great need.

HCP partner in Ghana provides much needed care in remote area

In late-October, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH)’s Dr. Seth Lartey led an outreach team of seven doctors and nurses to provide surgical services at Kete Krachi in the Krachi-West district of Volta Region of Ghana (over 700 miles from KATH).

During the workshop, the team screened 1,908 patients, provided medical treatment and spectacles as needed, and recommended surgery for 274 patients. The team provided 100 of the 274 surgeries, and will return before the end of the year to provide the remaining surgeries.

Residents queue up for an eye screening.
Residents queue up for an eye screening.
Dr. Lartey traverses the lake.
Dr. Lartey traverses the lake to get to the hard-to-reach patients.

Refractive Surgery Unit renovations in Nepal near completion

Renovations to a section of the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Kathmandu for a new state-of-the-art Refractive Surgery Unit are almost complete. While the contractors are tying up loose ends, HCP has been working tirelessly with Tilganga and London Vision Clinic (LVC) to ensure that the necessary equipment, furniture, computers and supplies are in place for its opening in early-January.

USAID-ASHA has provided a $700,000 grant towards the $1.1 million refractive surgery unit. HCP Advisory Board Member and LVC Director of Refractive Surgery Dr. Dan Reinstein will travel to Kathmandu to continue the work he started with Tilganga’s Dr. Kishore Pradhan for the official opening in January. London Vision Clinic Foundation was able to secure two generous laser donations for the Refractive Surgery Unit and have provided specialized training to Tilganga staff on several occasions. The new unit is projected to be key to cost recovery and an important step in developing a successful model for addressing refractive error in the developing world.

  • Click to enlarge these images of the new facility.

Click to enlarge these images of the new facility, which is nearing completion.

Social entrepreneur launches new business while supporting HCP

Ellison Sunglasses, founded in 2010 by Patrick Stanley, aspires to make a personal connection with its customers by selling sunglasses that, in addition to looking fashionable, will aid in the fight against curable cataracts. For every pair of glasses sold through its website, Ellison donates $20 to the HCP to support a sight-restoring surgery. HCP received its first check from Ellison for $380. Check out Ellison Sunglasses and start shopping today.

Give the Gift of Sight for the holidays!

Have you considered making a donation to HCP on someone’s behalf for the holidays? It’s a great way to introduce HCP to your loved ones and give the Gift of Sight.

You can give the Gift of Sight by donating online or by mailing a check. We will be happy to send you or the recipient a gift card. Please contact Marie Gakuba with any questions at mgakuba@[remove this text]

Spread joy and hope this holiday season!
Spread joy and hope this holiday season!

A blind man is led to an eye screening in Ghana.
A blind man is led to an eye screening 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.