Rukum is a beautiful Himalayan district of Nepal having a population of 207,290 according to the census of 2011 by “Nepal Government”. Rukum lies 280 km (Displacement) west of Kathmandu valley. The road travel from Kathmandu takes 23 hours into the Terai, Inner Terai to Rapti- Salyan-Rukum hilly highway. The headquarter is “Khalanga”. Rukum is one of the most remote districts of Nepal.
Maoist insurgency period in Nepal
Rukum was a flashpoint of the Maoist insurgency, along with the neighbouring district, Rolpa. Rukum became a stronghold and was controlled by insurgents throughout the conflict during the time of civil war that lasted for more than a decade. Roads were not accessible till 2010. The place was extremely inaccessible in the past.
Magar and Kshetris are the indigenous people of Rukum. Due to the lack of eye care service, the prevalence of blindness in Rukum was pretty high even after the effort of Rapti Eye hospital, doing several free surgical camps yearly in the lack of roads. The prevalence of visual impairment is high too.
After the roads reached the headquarters, “Khalanga” in the year 2010, it has been easier for People, Government and NGOs to act rapidly for the betterment of the place.
Status of Roads in Rukum
In the year 2011, Rukum Eye care centre was established by Rapti Eye Hospital in the hope to provide preventive and promotive eye care to the people of the district along with the neighbouring districts like Dolpa, Rolpa, Salyan, and Jajarkot.
Rukum Eye Care Centre started its service in District hospital Rukum at the headquarter for the very first time in 2011, with the limited resources. later it was shifted to Red cross building having four rooms. The Rukum eye care centre had limited resources, so the ophthalmic assistants coming to the eye care centre has been supplicating for donations from different organizations and local people, for smooth services. furniture items, solar panels and other operational expenses etc. are the donations made to the date.
Rukum Eye care centre is run by Rapti Eye Hospital and is supported by Norwegian organization for blind and partially sighted (NABP)
Many eye health teaching sessions are conducted in the Rukum district annually by Rapti eye hospital.
Training about common eye health problems to health post inchargesMothers group, Female community health volunteer, traditional healers etc is conducted on a yearly basis by Rapti Eye Hospital. Superstitions & taboos remain the leading creator of blindness in the district. People believe god and deities are the cause and cure for the diseases. common misbelieves like pouring fresh chicken blood to the corneal ulcers and wounds, Dhami/ Jhankri treating the people with cataracts, using toxic pastes to cure conjunctivitis etc are still practised in the remote V.D.C’s of District.
This Eye care centre has been doing many screening camps in villages and schools to search and aware people with cataracts, glaucoma, retinal diseases, Refractive errors in children, presbyopia in adults.
The prevalence of blindness has decreased since the accessibility of road and the establishment of Rukum eye care centre in 2011.
Trachoma surveillance and impact survey conducted by W.H.O was done in the year 2014 and 2016 and it was concluded that Rukum lies below the Trachoma threshold of W.H.O.
The “RAAB survey” was also done in the district in 2010.
Nepal Netra Jyoti Sangh establishment in Rukum district
Recently, the Nepal Netra Jyoti Sangh branch has been established in Rukum District. The main aim of the branch so established shall be to monitor and help smooth running of the eye care centre by finding the solution of the problems.
Every year, Rapti Eye hospital Organized a free surgical camp in the district, conducted on 15-16 Nov 2017. Dr Santosh Subedi (Ophthalmologist) operated a total of 86 cataracts out of 586 people who were examined in the OPD. Below are the photos, depicting the Surgical Camp conducted on 2017 November 15-16th.