Addressing the Surgical Backlog: Thailand’s Ongoing Battle against Visual Impairment with the Support of the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation

Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation
5 min readJun 23, 2023


A Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation patient in Raskot, Nepal.

Thailand, a vibrant country located in Southeast Asia, has made significant strides in healthcare, particularly in addressing visual impairment and blindness. With a comprehensive healthcare system that combines universal coverage and private sector support, Thailand has made great strides in combating eye-related conditions.

However, despite remarkable progress, there remains a surgical backlog, particularly in cases of cataracts. The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation, a leading organisation dedicated to eradicating avoidable cataract blindness worldwide, plans to visit Thailand in the coming months to assist Thailand’s healthcare system in its efforts to tackle visual impairment and the challenges it faces in eradicating the surgical backlog.

Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation patients in Nepal

The State of Healthcare in Thailand

With a population of approximately 69 million, Thailand has a well-established healthcare infrastructure. The country boasts 927 government hospitals, 363 private hospitals, and 9,768 primary healthcare units, ensuring access to medical services for its citizens. The public hospitals provide universal healthcare, while private hospitals play a crucial role in major urban areas, notably Bangkok.

Thailand’s healthcare system is underpinned by a commitment to health protection coverage. A World Bank Report states that an impressive 99.5% of the population has health protection coverage. This commitment extends to eye care, with universal coverage available for all Thai nationals. However, despite these achievements, rural areas still face challenges in terms of healthcare accessibility.

Visual Impairment as a National Health Priority

A Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation patient in Dolakha, Nepal

Thailand has been at the forefront of recognising visual impairment as a critical health concern. The country implemented a primary eye care program early on, emphasising the need to address preventable blindness. According to a 2013 report, untreated cataracts remained the leading cause of overall blindness and avoidable blindness, accounting for 69.7% of cases.

Cataract Surgical Coverage and Backlog

Thailand has made significant progress in addressing cataract-related blindness through its comprehensive eye care programs. The cataract surgical coverage (CSC) rate for blind individuals is commendable at 95.1% for males and 96.5% for females. Similarly, for those with severe visual impairment (SVI), the CSC stands at 85.3%. However, the CSC for those with moderate visual impairment (MVI) is relatively lower at 46.6%.

Despite the high CSC rates, there still exists a surgical backlog for blinding cataracts. The backlog, estimated to be around 70,071 individuals, highlights the need for sustained efforts to eliminate the backlog completely. This challenge can be attributed to two factors: a failure to reach a significant number of people with blinding cataracts and an insufficient cataract surgical rate (CSR).

The Way Forward with the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation

The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation recognises the importance of addressing the surgical backlog in Thailand and is committed to supporting the country’s healthcare system. The Foundation, founded by entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist Tej Kohli and renowned ophthalmologist Dr Sanduk Ruit, aims to eliminate avoidable blindness globally through innovative approaches and collaborations.

To overcome the surgical backlog in Thailand, the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation will work closely with local healthcare authorities and organisations. The Foundation will provide financial support, resources, and expertise to enhance screening and awareness campaigns, particularly in underserved areas. By conducting outreach programs and leveraging technological advancements, the Foundation aims to identify and reach a greater number of individuals with blinding cataracts.

A Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation patient in Dolakha, Nepal

Furthermore, the Foundation will collaborate with hospitals and medical professionals to increase the cataract surgical rate. By improving the capacity for cataract surgeries and ensuring timely treatment, the

The foundation aims to reduce the backlog and provide comprehensive eye care services to those in need.

Thailand’s healthcare system has made remarkable progress in combating visual impairment and providing universal eye care coverage. Through primary eye care programs and a strong network of hospitals, the country has significantly reduced the prevalence of blindness caused by cataracts. However, the surgical backlog for blinding cataracts remains a pressing issue that demands ongoing efforts.

With the support of the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation, Thailand is poised to make even more significant strides in addressing the surgical backlog. By continuing to prioritise and invest in eye care, particularly in reaching underserved populations and increasing the cataract surgical rate, Thailand can work towards eliminating the surgical backlog. As Thailand moves forward on its journey to cure all cases of blinding cataracts, it sets an example for other nations facing similar challenges, emphasising the importance of sustained commitment and innovation in the pursuit of visual health for all.

The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation is an NGO founded by Dr Sanduk Ruit and Mr Tej Kohli. It is part of their mission to create a lasting legacy of social and economic change across many isolated underserved communities in the developing world.

To find out more about the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation and what we do visit:

For more information on Tej Kohli as a philanthropist visit and to read more of his views go to his Medium.

To read about Tej Kohli as an investor visit Kohli Ventures.

Find out more about Tej Kohli: Tej Kohli the technologist investing in human triumph, Tej Kohli the philanthropist trying to cure the developing world of cataracts and Tej Kohli the London tycoon with a generous streak.

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Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation

The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation is advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goal to end poverty everywhere by making grassroots interventions to cure blindness.