Dr. Sanduk Ruit, a pioneer in cataract surgery, is an iconic name in ophthalmology. Dr Ruit is decorated with multiple awards both nationally and internationally for his dedicated services and achievements. But he still enjoys the most in giving vision to those who were deprived of it.
Dr Ruit, founder of Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology (TIO) and co-founder of Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP) revealed his vision and achievements as a guest at Desh Shanchar Chautari.
Treating an elderly woman during his young days as a medical officer at the Emergency ward of Bir Hospital was a triggering point. She had fallen down because of poor vision six months after her operation and suffered a fracture. In fact, there was no technology of implanting lenses back then, and she was putting up a heavy spectacle after the operation. It triggered an idea and determination in him leading to the birth of a vision.
‘What we had while instituting Tilganga Eye Center (TEC) was the courage’ he said, adding the next step was to form and expand a committed team. After sharing his aspirations with various successful people, he started TEC with Rs. 24,000 given by a monk who he operated.
The institute slowly and gradually took shape to become the TIO, the first institute in the field of ophthalmology in Nepal.
He is proud of what the team has been able to achieve and reiterated that it became possible with team work and team spirit.
TIO produces a large number of lenses needed for surgery and exports them too. But he believes the current philanthropic model is not sustainable and the lens manufacturing has to be performed in a private company model to remain competent internationally. He says the team is working hard on this. A breakthrough for the public-private partnership model is a necessity, he opined.
Dr. Ruit said their work of setting up ambulatory surgery was born out of necessity and not choice. The lack of human resources and facilities meant serving with outpatient departments and operating theaters to perform the ambulatory surgery that was eventually recognized as pioneering work.
As usual, political interference is a known obstacle to growth and progress of institutions in Nepal. Dr. Ruit said the team resisted possible interferences by formulating a strict protocol and adhering to them, keeping away any such obstructions at bay.
Tilganga, he said, is not aligned to any political forces. TIO has always remained neutral; what it has achieved is no small feat, “I say we could save Tilganga from the political sepsis and it is the biggest weapon that Tilganga has.”
Dr. Ruit, referred to as ‘God of Sight’ believes destiny supports hard work and commitment, and of course, he is an example. He is proud to state that they are truly independent and can make eyeballs and lenses available to anyone on time irrespective of geography and economic situation.
He, however, is worried about the future of the nation at large as public figures and institutions are losing credibility and wishes best for the emergence of someone who works for public welfare truly as a state-leader.