World renowned ophthalmologist Dr Sanduk Ruit has been awarded the Isa Award for Service to Humanity (fifth edition), the highest civilian award of the Kingdom of Bahrain in recognition of his continuous efforts and dedication to cure the developing world’s needlessly blind.
Affectionately known as the ‘God of Sight’, Dr Sanduk Ruit was born into humble beginnings in a rural area of the Taplejung District in foothills of the Himalayas. Dr Ruit excelled in his studies, and the untimely deaths of three of his siblings from ailments that would have been easily treated in the West ignited within him a desire to train to become a doctor.
After graduating Dr Ruit focused on treating people for cataract blindness and vowed to develop new methods and institutions to provide quality, affordable and sustainable eye care to prevent and cure untreated cataract blindness within the remote and impoverished communities of the developing world.
Dr Ruit founded the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Nepal in 1994, and established an intraocular lens factory that reduced the cost of the IOLs used during cataract surgery from 150 USD to under 3 USD – making cataract surgery accessible at scale for the first time to people in low-income countries. Dr Ruit also pioneered a low-cost surgical method for treating cataract blindness that is today replicated in many parts of the developing world.
Dr Ruit has personally performed surgery to cure the blindness of well over 130,000 patients at mobile eye camps in Nepal, India, Bhutan, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Ghana and even in North Korea.
In 2021 Dr Ruit co-founded the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation with an ambition to cure at least 300,000 more people in the developing world by 2030. As of December, 2022, the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation has cured more than 27,000 people of needless blindness in Nepal, Bhutan and Ghana.
Dr Sanduk Ruit has previously been awarded Asian of the Year 2007, The Order of Australia 2007, the Prince Mahidol Award of Thailand 2007, and the National Order of Merit (Gold) from the King of Bhutan 2015. In 2006 he was awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award. In 2017, he was picked by Albert Einstein Foundation as one of “Hundred Leading Global Visionaries of the Century”. In 2018, the government of India conferred Dr Ruit with the Padma Shri Award and in 2020, the Government of Nepal honoured Dr Ruit with Suprasiddha Prabal Janasewa Shree (First Classs).
The Isa Award for Service to Humanity, which is given every two years, was established in 2008 by a Royal Decree from His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the King of Bahrain. The US$1 million award, along with a medal of pure gold and a high certificate of appreciation, will be delivered at a grand royal ceremony honored by the presence of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of the Kingdom of Bahrain.