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Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral (JDWNRH), Ministry of Health, Bhutan nominates Indra Prasad Sharma, Clinical Optometrist for the Eye Health Hero 2020. Mr. Sharma, at present shoulders multiple responsibilities; head of the contact lens and low vision clinic, coordinator for Academic, training, and research unit at the GKCW National Eye Center (GKCWNEC), Course coordinator for a diploma course at KGUMSB, Technical Focal person for MoH-Essilor Collaborative Programme, and Editor at the Bhutan Health Journal and other international journals.

Recipient of the undergraduate Royal Government Scholarship, Mr.Sharma graduated as the university topper from India. Securing the prestigious Nehru-Wangchuck Scholarship, he completed Masters in Clinical Optometry with the Academic Excellence Award and the Best Emerging Researcher. Sharma possesses excellent professional skills and research knowledge and demonstrates good leadership and communication skills. Motivated to act, accept challenges, and implement changes, Mr. Sharma has extraordinarily contributed to eye health in Bhutan.

On excelling in the Civil Service Examination in 2011, he volunteered to serve at the remote regional referral hospital which had no ophthalmologist. He was assigned to lead all ophthalmic activities in six districts of eastern Bhutan for 5 years; he demonstrated professionalism and achieved results. Besides that, he conducted mobile eye clinics and coordinated mobile operative eye camps which benefited thousands of unreached population. As a clinician, he marshals professional expertise in clinical refraction and has performed over 70,000 refractions. He started low vision rehabilitation and contact lens services, including specialty lens services at the GKCWNEC.

Apart from his clinical commitments, Sharma’s initiatives and contributions have brought several policy changes and improvements in eye health at the national level. He was instrumental in planning and conducting of the national RAAB survey in 2018. In 2019, he initiated and led the nationwide Bhutan School Sight Programme (BSSP) which screened and refracted 171,400 (98.8%) children in schools and monastic institutions and dispensed almost 20,000 free spectacles. The BSSP received immense appreciation and was considered a major national achievement in health. He significantly contributed to draft the National Eye Health Plan 2019-2023 and develop 20 Standard Operating Procedures (SoP). He collaborated with the DPRP at the Ministry of Health to develop the National Priority List and Action Plan for Assistive Technology. His contribution was recognized with the Best Employee of the Year Award 2018 by the JDWNRH. Our change-maker is expected to change the outlook on how optometrists could contribute to global eye health.

“Having been born and brought up in a small village in Bhutan, I experienced a real-life situation of living in a remote community. It was since then, I was determined to pursue health and impact the lives of the community. Joining the Ministry of Health as the country’s first optometrist was an opportunity for me to make some contribution. Working in eye health for almost a decade, I realized that every effort in eye health can bring changes in improving the lives of the underprivileged population. I am passionate about my profession and commit to taking responsibility with due diligence and integrity.”

– Indra Prasad Sharma