Dr Sudarshan Khanal is an optometrist and a public health consultant working in eye health in Nepal for eight years now. Dr Khanal is passionate about providing vision care in remote areas of Nepal. An easy going, open-minded and a challenge-seeker, he is setting foot to tackle the problem of uncorrected refractive error in the country.
Dr Khanal is working as a program coordinator for Better Vision Foundation Nepal, a non-government organization established in 2017 to tackle the problem of uncorrected refractive error. In 2018 he initiated the first vision care project that screened around 1000 children in government schools of Bhaktapur and Lalitpur district. In 2019 and 2020, he played an instrumental role by overseeing the logistic management and supply-chain management of optical instruments in our vision care projects conducted in collaboration with OneSight in Makawanpur, Nuwakot and Kavre district. In total around 3500 people were served and were provided with spectacles and nearly 100 patients were provided with cataract surgery free of cost. All these three projects involved collaboration with the local governments and Dr Khanal played a role in establishing the relationship with local governments.
In 2021, right after the lockdown of COVID-19, under his leadership, he initiated an eye care project to link with rural municipalities and provide vision care at the door of the underserved community. The first project was conducted in Sudhodhan Rural Municipality of Rupandehi district. It ran for four days and served around 1000 people. Four hundred thirty four patients were provided with free spectacles and one hundred fifty people were referred for cataract surgery. Mix-model was implemented to cover the cost of cataract surgery where the local government would provide $50 to every cataract patient as reimbursement. Similar projects are in the implementation phase in two rural municipalities of the same district. The project is set to connect 10 districts by 2025.
Apart from coordinating our vision care projects, he is working on developing a training module targeted to medical officers working in primary health centers to detect the uncorrected refractive error and make a proper referral. The first phase of the training is planned to roll out in early 2023. Being a public health researcher, he is applying his research skill in conducting field research. Two of the research papers are in the publication phase and one is still in the data collection phase.
“My role as a program coordinator in Better Vision Foundation Nepal is helping me realize my goal to play a key role in solving the problem of uncorrected refractive error in the country. The sheer joy of seeing a patient from the under-served communities and help them see cannot be described in words. Establishing relationships with local governments and other organization to achieve our common goal of eliminating avoidable blindness is the most satisfying role I play.”
– Dr Sudarshan Khanal