Australia's promised its support to Nepal as the Australian Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs announced AusAID’s future commitment to the region on a visit to The Foundation-supported Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Kathmandu.

The Hon Richard Marles MP met with world-renowned ophthalmologist Dr Sandruk Ruit, Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, and Deputy Prime Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha during his visit to Nepal.

"Nepal has many friends and a growing community of Nepalese in Australia who want to see it achieve," Mr Marles said in his discussions, which focused on Australian aid and support for Nepal.

"Australia has more than tripled its assistance in the past five years," he said.

"In 2012-13 AusAID will invest $35 million in education, health, rural livelihoods and governance reform to improve the quality of life of Nepalese people."

Thanks to the generous support of Australians, The Foundation has been able to contribute significantly to the prevention of avoidable blindness in Nepal.

The Medical Director of the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, Dr Sanduk Ruit, has carried out over 120,000 cataract operations and trained eye surgeons across the world through support from The Foundation.

Dr Ruit is one of the world's most celebrated eye surgeons and was a close friend of the late Fred Hollows. He worked with Fred to revolutionise surgical methods to remove cataracts — a major cause of avoidable blindness — in developing countries.

AusAID recognises that treatment of avoidable blindness is an area in which the Australian NGO sector has considerable expertise, and that eye health is a critical development need in our region.

In the 2008–'09 Budget, the Australian Government committed $45 million for the Avoidable Blindness Initiative to improve the quality of life for people with low vision and blindness in Asia and the Pacific.

In 2010, AusAID approached the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Kathmandu and The Foundation to support the delivery of eye care to those who need it most in Nepal.

The project commenced in April 2011 and continues.

> Find out more about The Foundation's work in Nepal.