“Life is so short and there are many more things to achieve, this thought keeps me motivated”, were the words of Dr Sanduk Ruit during an inspiring address at an Australia Awards alumni event in Kathmandu recently. Over 100 Australia Awards alumni from Nepal as well as 15 from other countries in South and West Asia, attended the event in April 2019, organised to encourage alumni to continue to make a difference through their work.
Known as Nepal’s miracle eye doctor Dr Sanduk Ruit, an eminent eye-surgeon, has restored the sight of more than 120,000 people across Nepal and beyond. Early in his career, through his friendship and collaboration, he was inspired by Dr Fred Hollows, a trailblazing Australian eye-surgeon with whom he shared the vision that all people with treatable blindness have the right to restored eyesight.
While in Australia, Dr Ruit learned about a cataract micro-surgery technique using implanted intraocular lenses. He wanted to take this technique and help the poorest of the poor. He is one of the founders of the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology and the co-founder of Himalayan Cataract Project. Dr Ruit is widely known for his extraordinary contribution in introducing low-cost and effective intraocular lenses and making it affordable and available even to the poorest people for small incision cataract surgery.
Dr Ruit has received several international awards including the prestigious Padma Shri (2018, India), the Ramon Magsaysay (2006, Phillippines), an Order of Australia (2007), a National Order of Merit of Bhutan (2015) and many more. Two books, Second Suns (2013) and The Barefoot Surgeon (2018) feature his extraordinary journey of curing preventable blindness.
Addressing the alumni, Dr Ruit said that it was important to have a dream but it is equally important to have a good team to realise the dream. He encouraged alumni to continue to foster partnerships that they formed in Australia and beyond. Dr Ruit himself mentioned the importance of his partnerships at Tilganga Hospital in Nepal but also other partnerships internationally, such as his partnership with Dr Fred Hallows. These partnerships have been instrumental in the restoration of eyesight for hundreds of thousands of people.
Emphasising the need to share your knowledge with others, Dr Ruit shared how proud he was that at the Tilganga Hospital there are many doctors who he trained. He claimed, humbly, that they are now “better eye surgeons” than himself.
HE Peter Budd, Australian Ambassador to Nepal in his closing remarks expressed his pride in claiming Dr Ruit as one of Australia’s global alumni.