In 2015, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) published a report stating that approximately 213,000 Ghanaians, equivalent to 0.74% of the population, were blind, with cataracts being the leading cause of blindness in Ghana, accounting for 54.8% of cases.
The burden of blindness in Ghana is mostly experienced by rural residents living in non-intervention zones, making it essential to implement crucial interventions for these communities, such as increasing outreach camps.
To address the treatable cataract blindness backlog in Ghana, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) collaborated with the HCP Cureblindness to launch the National Cataract Outreach Program in 2017. This program aimed to establish a sustainable national outreach effort that would incentivise Ghanaian eye care service providers to eliminate the cataract backlog and make quality surgery accessible to everyone in the country.
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation, inspired by a similar mission, has been working to provide much-needed eye care to marginalised and underserved communities in Nepal and Bhutan and has now partnered with HCP Cureblindness to work in Ghana.
In March 2023, Dr Sanduk Ruit, co-founder of the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation, and a team from Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology arrived in Ghana to conduct an outreach camp under the National Cataract Outreach Program at the Eastern Regional Hospital in Koforidua. The team had already screened thousands of patients across the region and identified over 500 people living with needless blindness.
The team immediately got to work, setting up the operating theatre, conducting biometry tests, and performing surgeries. Six doctors, including Dr. Ruit, successfully completed 580 surgeries in three days, restoring sight and hope to the Eastern Region of Ghana.
Patients were called for a follow-up visit on April 3, 2023, and HCP Cure Blindness reported a significant improvement in the sight of the patients who underwent surgery during the outreach camp. The outreach camp in Koforidua was the result of a partnership between four organizations, HCP Cure Blindness, Eastern Regional Hospital, Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, and the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation, united by a common mission to reduce needless blindness and its socio-economic impact among marginalised populations.
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation, established in March 2021, continues to provide much-needed eye care across the developing world to reduce poverty by eliminating needless blindness in poverty-stricken communities. Blindness’s socio-economic cost is well-documented, with people and family members being economically, mentally, and socially impacted due to needless blindness.
Investment in large-scale sight restoration programs helps rebuild communities by improving employability chances and can help the world achieve its primary United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ending extreme poverty everywhere.