Dr. Rishi Raj Borah is an integral part of the Orbis mission in India and has committed an enormous part of his life to better the lives of children across the country. Although Rishi studied veterinary sciences, early on in his life, he discovered his inclination towards working for and with people. His penchant for community work led him to volunteer and work for numerous organizations, all supporting children in need.
In 2004, Rishi channelized his expertise of working with communities seamlessly into the fight against avoidable blindness. Beginning at an Orbis partner hospital, Sankaradeva Nethralaya, as Project Manager in North East India, Rishi played a laudable role in reaching half a million children. His tireless efforts on-ground continued as he joined Orbis in 2007. From his role as Program Manager to the Country Director today and an active Board Member of Vision 2020-India chapter, Rishi’s journey has been nothing short of an inspiration.
He has worked tirelessly to develop innovative, impactful and sustainable eye care initiatives for communities across India, Indonesia and Nepal, impacting lives of millions of children.
Rishi’s pride at Orbis lies in partnerships, and he values his and Orbis’s association with the partners. Dr. RD Ravindran, Chairman, Aravind Eye Care System said, “I think in these 20 years, a big transition in leadership has happened in Orbis, with Dr. Rishi who has been with them for very very long time. He understands the organization; he understands the partners. I think he will be able to continue change in the organization as well.”
At Orbis, he has been instrumental in creating the largest network of Children’s Eye Centers in the world with 33 centers across 17 states of India. The most common cause of children’s vision impairment is refractive error. To address this, Rishi led the Orbis REACH (Refractive Error Among Children) program in India which not only focusses on service delivery but also on children’s acceptance of glasses. In past three years since 2016, the Program reached to over 5 million children in India and Nepal by 2019 end.
Rishi’s leadership has enabled Orbis to leverage technology and applications like ICOM and REACHSOFT for an effective program data gathering, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The phenomenal effectiveness and ease of using these applications have inspired Orbis to replicate some of these in other countries. Some of the innovative initiatives led by Rishi include converting the Vision Centers into solar powered, energy efficient Green Vision Centers, thus ensuring continuity of services; bringing Quality Assurance at the forefront for partners; establishing Pediatric Learning and Training Centers in India; and many more.
More recently, Rishi has also led the development of ‘Comprehensive Guidelines for OPD/ IPD Services in Ophthalmology Hospitals/ Clinics under New Normal: Living with Covid-19’, to make a set of precautionary guidelines available for eye hospitals and healthcare setups in general for reference to ensure staff and patient safety during service delivery. The exclusive and timely document has been encouraged for adoption by key representative of World Health Organization-SEARO, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and reviewed as well as endorsed by the four Regional Centers of Excellence in India.
Rishi has always worked shoulder to shoulder with leaders in eye care to develop comprehensive child eye care services to benefit the children of India.