There are currently 285 million people who are visually impaired (can see less than 3 meters) of which, 39 million are completely blind. Ninety per cent of visually impaired and blind people live in developing countries, two-thirds of whom are women. In approximately 80% of cases, blindness and visual impairment are treatable. Unfortunately, millions of poor people in developing countries lack access to affordable eye-care.
The Ruit Foundation serves to replicate and export the Community Eye Hospital model, developed by Dr Sanduk Ruit, one of the world's most prolific eye surgeons. Three Community Eye Hospitals have already been established, and are operating independently, in Hetauda, Nepal, Kalimpong, India and Lhasa in China. The CEH model is proven to be replicable and scalable and to provide affordable, sustainable and effective eye-care to poor communities in low-resource settings.
The Ruit Foundation aims to set up five CEHs by year 2022. Each hospital, annually, will provide services to around 30,000-40,000 patients and a further 5,000-10,000 patients via outreach eye camps. Hospitals surgeons will perform more than 5,000 sight restoration surgeries per year. Community Eye Hospitals will serve as models of best practice, and provide training to other local eye care professionals. The model of best practice will also serve as a beacon for other national and regional eye-care services, exemplifying an affordable and sustainable approach, with the potential for replication.
Community Eye Hospitals have a considerable socio-economic impact on local and regional communities, in addition to their humanitarian work. In restoring the vision of thousands of people a year, hospitals have a hugely positive economic influence on individuals and their families. Not only many patients, but also their carers, are able to return to work, having a profound impact on households’ ability to escape poverty.