Ophthalmologists spearhead earthquake relief efforts in Nepal
Ophthalmologists and other medical specialists are combining forces to help provide eye care and relief services in Nepal in the wake of major earthquakes that occurred there on April 25 and May 12. At least two funds have been set up to assist in relief efforts.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology set up the Nepal Eye Care Relief Fund to support relief efforts, and Pravin U. Dugel, MD, and colleagues from the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine traveled to Nepal to help with relief efforts and established the USC Eye Institute/Retinal Consultants of Arizona Global Relief Fund.
Pravin U. Dugel
Dugel was born in Nepal and visits the country frequently to work with the Tilganga Eye Institute, an eye care network founded by Nepalese ophthalmologist Sanduk Ruit, MD. The network provides cataract surgery in isolated and underserved areas; Dugel is currently working with Ruit to establish a retina program.
“When this catastrophe happened, [Ruit] contacted me and told me about the people it affected. In fact, it affected the people that were the most remote who were reached by this particular medical network,” Dugel told Ocular Surgery News. “In a country like Nepal, there’s really no way to access those people, but I knew that Dr. Ruit had that network. So, it was natural for me to try to go and help.”
Dugel arrived in Nepal on May 10 and left on May 16.
He said that the Tilganga Eye Institute widened its focus after the devastating earthquakes.
“What’s really remarkable is that [Ruit] has repurposed this network now from a sight-saving network to a life-saving network that provides relief and shelter, medical aid, food and so forth,” Dugel said. “That’s really what I was doing. I was helping in two different pathways. One was to provide medical care, do surgeries and so forth, and the other was to provide relief, which was to help with the distribution of food, shelter and medicine in this network.”
Dugel credited Carmen A. Puliafito, MD, MBA, dean of USC’s Keck School of Medicine; Rohit Varma, MD, MPH; and Mark S. Humayun, MD, PhD, for helping with relief efforts in Nepal.
A six-member trauma team from USC also traveled to Nepal to help.
To learn more about relief efforts and donate to the USC Eye Institute/Retinal Consultants of Arizona Global Relief Fund or the AAO’s Nepal Eye Care Relief Fund, visit www.retinalconsultantsaz.com or www.aao.org/foundation/nepal-eye-care-relief. - by Matt Hasson
Disclosure: Dugel reports no relevant financial disclosures.