Lisbon, September 4th 2013 – The 2013 António Champalimaud Vision Award recognises the humanitarian and clinical work of four Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) from Nepal. These institutions have fought for a long time against the grave problem of vision disorders in a country where this issue are a social catastrophe.
Nepal is a country which faces huge social challenges, among which is the suffering caused by eyesight disorders and blindness.
The first programme to combat eyesight disorders was launched in the early 80's, after a pioneering study was carried out that highlighted the scale of the problem. A plan to combat blindness was duly created and, with the extraordinary efforts of the four institutions recognised here, has now been running for more than two decades.
The 2013 António Champalimaud Vision Award will help to continue the outstanding work carried out by these four institutions, helping to create and develop programmes to train up technicians who might subsequently operate on cataracts, which are responsible for more than 70% of the cases of blindness, and so make a critical contribution towards eliminating avoidable blindness in Nepal.
About the Winners
The Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology serves the Kathmandu Valley region and also populations that live in remote and mountainous regions of Nepal. Created in 1992 to carry out the Nepal Eye Programme, Tilganga's aim was to be a model for investigation, treatment and the training of professionals in the area of the prevention and treatment of eyesight problems. It currently has a clinic that can provide the most advanced services to ophthalmologic patients; it has an education and training department; a unit which manages the various centres and small clinics scattered among the rural community of Nepal and neighbouring countries; an ophthalmologic bank to provide corneas for transplant and to make the population aware of the need for donors; a factory of material necessary to perform the most advanced operations on cataracts; and also a research unit.
Nepal Netra Jyoti Sangh (NNJS) was set up in 1980 with the aim of executing and coordinating a programme to combat eyesight-related problems in the country. Since then it has played a fundamental role in the orientation and coordination of 14 hospitals and 60 treatment centres spread throughout the Nepalese provinces, articulating all the prevention work and the provision of healthcare.
The Eastern Regional Eye Care Programme is a treatment programme which, in cooperation with NNJS and with a combination of two ophthalmologic hospitals, Sagarmatha Choudhary Eye Hospital (Lahan) and Biratnagar Eye Hospital, and their 7 satellite clinics, offers high quality services to the populations of the eastern region of the country. The Sagarmatha Choudhary Eye Hospital (SCEH) started out in 1983 as a small eye care unit with 12 beds, and currently has more than 400 beds and 5 satellite clinics. Since it was created in 2006 the Biratnagar Eye Hospital (BEH) has grown to its current 450 beds, geared towards providing high quality ophthalmologic services to the poorest sectors of the population of Nepal.
The Lumbini Eye Institute, in cooperation with NNJS, operates in the central and western region of Terai. Created in 1983, this institute, which started out as a small clinic with only two rooms, one doctor and a staff of three, is currently one of the most successful cases among the ophthalmologic centres of Nepal. With 215 beds, this hospital performs between 75 and 170 different types of eye surgery every day.
About the António Champalimaud Vision Award
The António Champalimaud Vision Award was launched in 2006 and is supported by the World Health Organization's «2020 – The Right to Sight» programme. The award, worth 1 million Euros, is the largest in the world in the area of Eyesight.
In odd-numbered years, the Award recognises work developed on the ground by institutions in the prevention of and fight against blindness and eyesight disorders, mainly in developing countries. In even-numbered years, the Award goes to far-reaching scientific research in the area of eyesight. In 2007, the Vision Award went to the Aravind Eye Care System in India and in 2008 it was awarded jointly to the laboratories of King-Wai Yau and Jeremy Nathans, of Johns Hopkins University; in the 2009 edition the work of Helen Keller International was recognised, while in 2010 it went to J. Anthony Movshon (University of New York) and William T. Newsome (Howard Hughes Medical Institute and University of Stanford). In 2011 the prize was awarded to APOC and in 2012 to two groups of scientists: James Fujimoto, David Huang, Carmen Puliafito, Joel Schuman and Eric Swanson, and David R. Williams. Since its inception, the António Champalimaud Vision Award has already more than 400 candidates.
The Award Jury comprises international scientists and prominent public figures involved in the fight against the problems experienced in developing countries. Members: Alfred Sommer, Paul Sieving, Jacques Delors, Amartya Sen, Carla Shatz, Joshua Sanes, Mark Bear, Gullapalli Rao, José Cunha-Vaz, António Guterres and Susumu Tonegawa.
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