Professor, Dr. Sanduk Ruit, MD, Honarary Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Ophthalmologists.
Vice Chancellor, it is my pleasure to read the citation for Professor Sanduk Ruit for the award of Honorary Doctor of Science.
Sanduk Ruit is an eminent ophthalmologist and eye surgeon, humanitarian, and founder of The Himalayan Cataract Project and The Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology.
Born in the remote Nepali village of Olangchung Gola, Sanduk’s early childhood was spent in a community with neither electricity nor healthcare. The nearest school was 15 days walk away in Darjeeling, across the Indian border. And it was here that seven-year-old Sanduk began his schooling.
Life without modern healthcare can be precarious, and Sanduk’s family was struck by repeated tragedy, as he lost a brother and two sisters. Yet from his trauma came the resolve to become a physician, and to help people whether they could afford treatment or not.
It was a bold ambition for a young man from such humble beginnings, but Sanduk was an enthusiastic and diligent student. And in 1970, he won a place at King George’s Medical College in the city of Lucknow.
He completed his postgraduate studies at the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.
In 1985, Sanduk met Doctor Fred Hollows, an accomplished Australian eye surgeon. The pair quickly formed a close bond, and Doctor Hollows took on the role of mentor, helping Sanduk find his true path – to restore eyesight to people who are unnecessarily blind.
Sanduk went to study with Doctor Hollows at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, and it was here that he applied a surgical technique using implanted intraocular lenses, which he had finetuned in Nepal.
At that time, intraocular lenses were too expensive, and the procedure too difficult and too risky for treating patients in developing countries. But together, Sanduk and Doctor Hollows resolved to overcome these challenges, founding the Nepal Eye Program Australia.
The pair shared a single vision - to bring modern cataract surgery to people living in Nepal and other developing countries.
By developing new techniques in sutureless microsurgery, Sanduk made it possible to perform large numbers of high-quality cataract surgeries in remote locations. He would even trek into remote parts of the Himalayas to set up eye camps, restoring sight to people who had never had recourse to cataract surgery.
In 1994, Sanduk helped establish The Tilganga Eye Centre in Kathmandu, which has proved an invaluable resource for the people of the region. Now in a typical week, the Eye Centre treats more than 7000 patients, waiving surgery fees for those unable to pay. And because many poor people cannot travel to Kathmandu, he still leads eye camps in the more remote regions of Nepal and in many developing nations, including China, India, Bhutan, North Korea, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Ghana and Ethiopia.
Remarkably, Sanduk has saved or restored the sight of over 150,000 people and counting. He also co-founded the Himalayan Cataract Project with Professor Geoff Tabin. Two of them were instrumental in taking the Nepal system globally especially in Africa putting lot of emphasis on training. Yet his passion remains as strong as ever. In 2021, he launched the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation with philanthropist Mr. Tej Kohli - with the mission to screen one million people and cure 300,000 of cataract blindness by 2026.
His work has been recognised through many prestigious awards around the globe:
Sanduk Ruit is a pioneering ophthalmologist and surgeon, a humanitarian whose work has changed the lives of countless people in some of the world’s poorest and most remote regions. He will be an inspirational role model both for researchers and students within VERI and across ARU.
We are delighted to welcome Professor Sanduk Ruit to our Anglia Ruskin community.
Vice Chancellor, it is my pleasure to present Professor Sanduk Ruit for the award of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.