The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation, a London based NGO that is funded entirely by Tej Kohli and the Kohli family, has passed a key milestone of screening 150,000 people from remote and underserved communities in the developing world. 17,289 were identified as being blind or severely visually impaired due to cataracts. All have now been cured.
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation is targeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ending poverty, by making large-scale surgical interventions to cure blindness. The Foundation says that the socio-economic return of curing someone of cataract blindness in the developing world is 1,500% of the cost of surgery during the first postoperative year.
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation launched in March 2021 at Lumbini in Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha, and the majority of its initial work has focused on the country. A 2019 survey showed that 1.05% of Nepalese over the age of 50 were blind or severely visually impaired.
In August 2022 the NGO also commenced its first projects in Bhutan, where 246 people were cured of blindness during a six-day period, many of them having their surgery performed by ‘God of Sight’ Dr Sanduk Ruit, who is co-founder of the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation.
Needless blindness remains highly pervasive in the developing world and can be a major inhibiter to economic development. Over 90% of the people living needlessly with curable blindness reside in low-income countries. As life expectancy increases, so does the incidence of untreated cataract. 62% of those cured of blindness by the NGO are over 70 years old.
64% of those living needlessly with blindness in the developing world are female. Women and girls are also more likely to be disenfranchised out of education or work to become full-time carers for a blind family member. The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation has sought to redress the balance through outreach, with 56.4% of the patients cured by the NGO being female. The NGO has also cured 10 young girls who were blind due to congenital cataracts.
The co-founders of the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation draw from their own experiences to enhance their impact in low-income countries. Indian-born Tej Kohli made his fortune by building and selling a series of companies specializing in online payment technologies and by investing in real estate. Tej Kohli has committed a significant portion of his wealth to reducing extreme poverty by curing needless blindness in low-income countries.
Dr Sanduk Ruit is Nepalese ophthalmologist and surgeon. Born into the lowest tiers of a rigid caste system in a tiny remote village in the Himalayas, Dr Ruit lost three of his siblings to diseases that would be easily curable in the West. He resolved that he would become a doctor to bring Western-quality treatments to those who needed it most. Today he is known worldwide as the ‘God of Sight’ and is a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award – Asia’s equivalent of a Nobel prize – after personally curing hundreds of thousands of blindness.
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation plans to cure at least 300,000 of cataract blindness by 2030 as part of the #2030InSight strategic plan to embed vision as a fundamental economic, social and development issue worldwide.
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation is a restricted fund operating under the auspices of Prism The Gift Fund, registered UK charity number 1099682. For more information visit: www.tejkohliruit.com