The Fred Hollows Foundation’s Nepalese partner, the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, led by Dr Sanduk Ruit, was honoured this week as a joint winner of a 1 million euro prize from a Portugese Foundation.
Dr Ruit, the Nepalese “barefoot surgeon”, who was Fred Hollows’s friend and successor, shared the award with three others for their work fighting eyesight disorders and blindness in Nepal.
The Lisbon-based Champalimaud Foundation's annual Vision Award is the biggest monetary award for work on eyesight and one of the world's largest scientific prizes. It awarded the prize because of the Nepal’s success in cutting the rate of blindness from 0.8 per cent of the population in the early 80s to 0.4 percent today.
It also recognized the support of The Fred Hollows Foundation and the Himalayan Program in the award.
After receiving his accolade from the Portugese president, Aníbal António Cavaco Silva, Dr Ruit said, “If we can achieve this in Nepal, we can achieve it anywhere.” He said the work of The Fred Hollows Foundation has been crucial in the fight against blindness in Nepal.
Dr Ruit is the founder and director of The Tilganga Institute, which helps prevent blindness for thousands in Nepal. In conjunction with The Fred Hollows Foundation, it has helped reduce the cost of cataract surgery, and helped restore sight to millions worldwide.
Dr Ruit met Fred Hollows in Nepal in the early 80s and later came to study with Fred at the Prince of Wales hospital in Sydney. He has performed more than 120,000 eye operations, and has trained thousands of other surgeons in his technique known as Small Incision Cataract Surgery, developed in the most remote regions of the Himalayas.
Nepal Netra Jyoti Sangh, the Eastern Regional Eye Care Program and the Lumbini Eye Institute were named as the other three winners.
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