Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon Tim Watts has visited the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Kathmandu, Nepal to see first-hand the work being done to eliminate avoidable blindness in the region.
The world-class eye centre was established in 1994 by Professor Fred Hollows and Nepalese ophthalmologist Dr Sanduk Ruit, with the support of the Australian Government.
During the visit, the Assistant Minister expressed high praise for The Foundation’s collaboration with Dr Ruit and Tilganga, saying the partnership was changing lives.
"I am so impressed by the professionalism and productivity of your operation,” Mr Watts said.
Mr Watts said the 30-year partnership had helped almost one million Nepalis access affordable eye care services.
“I am proud the Australian Government has been able to support the partnership between The Fred Hollows Foundation and the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology through our Australian NGO Cooperation Program and the Direct Aid Program,” he said.
Photo Credit: The Fred Hollows Foundation
Since opening its doors, Tilganga has restored sight to millions of people worldwide and treats more than 6,000 patients each week. The centre also builds local capacity and expertise in eye health by providing research, training and education.
The Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Ian Wishart said Tilganga, which produces high-quality affordable Intraocular lenses (IOLs), showed what could be achieved through innovation and collaboration.
“The Australian Government's involvement in this journey serves as a testament to the power of bilateral partnerships in creating lasting change,” Mr Wishart said.
“This initiative has significantly reduced the cost of cataract surgery with IOLs produced in Nepal now being used in over 75 countries.
“This has a huge global impact because we know if we improve eye health, we also reduce healthcare costs and boost productivity around the world.”
Dr Ruit, who remains the executive director at Tilganga, has performed more than 120,000 eye operations and trained thousands of surgeons.
Speaking of his work with Fred, Dr Ruit said the late Professor would have been proud of what they had achieved together.
“I think it should be written down in history as a perfect partnership,” Dr Ruit said.
“We have together made lots of landmark changes in the history of ophthalmology and prevention of blindness.”
Cover Photo Credit: The Fred Hollows Foundation