Curing Blindness in the Madhesh Province of Nepal

Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation
4 min readJan 13, 2023

The Madhesh Province in Nepal is the country’s smallest province by area, but at the same time, the nation’s most populous. According to the 2021 Nepal census, over 6 million residents live across an area of 9,661 square kilometres.

The province is a multicultural and multiethnic province with a rich cultural heritage — however, behind the natural beauty and the cultural heritage of the Terai lies an uncomfortable reality — of extreme poverty.

According to a 2021 report on Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), 24.2% of people in Madhesh Province are MPI poor. While the percentage is lower when compared to Karnali Province which has an MPI of 39.5%, due to population density, the Madhesh Province is home to the majority of the nation’s poor.

The area also has one of the highest numbers of Nepal’s marginalized communities which include the Dalit communities such as the Chamars, the Musahars, Dhanuks and the Pashwans. These communities, often landless and homeless, live in severe poverty without access to quality education, sanitation, proper nutrition or healthcare.

Patients living with cataract blindness in Madhesh Province of Nepal

Screening Camps

A team from the Shri Janaki Eye Hospital, working with the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation depart to a pre-determined location. The locations are decided after considering the distance from the eye hospital, the number of people living in the community, and their socio-economic status.

Prior to the camps, public service announcements about the upcoming screening are made. When the day of the camp arrives, those struggling with eye health problems quickly fill the camps.

Screening camps are held usually in local schools, health centres or community-based buildings. Once arrived, medical teams set up an area for a vision test and a consultation room for after the test. It is here that those patients who are identified as living with cataract blindness are referred for surgery.

Each patient is allocated a date for surgery. Prior to the surgery, a bus arrives to transfer them to the hospital.

So far, the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation has organized 143 screening camps in Madhesh Province alone. The foundation has screened 206,261 people and cured 27,963 people.

Surgical Interventions

Once at the hospital, the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation performs the necessary tests before transferring the patient into the surgical ward. Once at the ward, an anesthesiologist applies an anaesthetic. Following this, the patient is then transferred to the operating theatre where the doctor will remove the cataract, insert an intraocular lens, and then patch the patient up.

Patients in surgical theatres, Nepal

The next morning, the patches are removed, and the patients are cured of blindness. Patients who have their lives transformed by this surgery are excited to see their sight restored. They are seen to be smiling and celebrating their newfound freedom and independence.

Patients awaiting the removal of eye patches

For the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation, such moments are precious, but the proudest ones are when patients say they will return to work and provide for their families.

The number one United Nations Sustainable Development Goal is to end extreme poverty everywhere and restoring sight will help the world achieve the collective goal by empowering families to lift themselves from extreme poverty.

The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation has cured 4,833 people of needless blindness in the Madhesh Province of Nepal.

Globally, we have cured 27,963 people of needless blindness in countries such as Nepal, Bhutan & Ghana.

In 2023, the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation will take its outreach camps and surgical interventions to other parts of the developing world including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

For more information about eyecare and Tej Kohli as a philanthropist visit tejkohliruit.com and to read more of his views go to his Medium.

To read about Tej Kohli as an investor and technologist 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.