Nepal Elections — How Curing Blindness Improves Access To Poltical Rights | #2030InSight

On 13th May, 2022, Nepal’s population will cast their votes for the local elections. During 2022, Nepal’s voters will determine the future of their country by voting in local, provisional and national elections.

This is Nepal’s second local level election since the introduction of the Nepalese Constitution in 2015. Many voters await Friday with great enthusiasm to exercise their political rights.

But for those living with preventable blindness — not so much. Prior to this communities would have difficulty voting due to the lack of resources available to assist them in voting. However, a great relief was felt by the struggling community when it was announced via press release that special provisions would be put in place to assist blind people in taking part within the electoral process. The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation welcomes Nepal’s Election Commission’s decision to allow the blind to exercise their political rights by allowing a family member to assist them, it cannot help but experience sadness that there are hundreds of thousands who continue to live a life of needless blindness, and experience great difficulty in exercising basic rights such as voting due to their visual impairment, amongst other difficulties.

Cataracts are the leading cause of needless blindness worldwide. According to a report published in 2021 the Nepalese Journal of Ophthalmology, 53% of Nepal’s blindness was due to cataracts.

This, in essence, means that 53% of Nepal’s blind population could have exercised their political rights with ease had they received an opportunity to receive surgery.

It is also important to note here that it could be extremely difficult for the needlessly blind to simply reach the polling station, especially for those living in the remote Himalayan outback. Similarly, it is very likely that Nepal’s needlessly blind were also excluded from political dialogues occurring amongst their families or communities — depriving them of knowledge about their political leaders and their policies.

Inability to exercise their political rights is just one of the hidden costs of preventable blindness — and yet again, perpetuated by extreme poverty.

Mr Tej Kohli and Dr Sanduk Ruit at a TKRF camp in Nepal

As of 2022, the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation has cured 15,604 adults of needless blindness in Nepal, therefore allowing more than 15,000 to access their political rights with ease.

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