When eye care becomes disaster relief: Nepal doctor to discuss quake aftermath

May 4, 2016  //  FOUND IN: News,


Following the most devastating earthquake in Nepal’s history, the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, in Kathmandu, transformed itself practically overnight into a national relief center. Those injured sought care anywhere they could, including Tilganga, where eye check-ups and Lasik surgeries took a backseat to triage, trauma care – even food and water distribution.

Tilganga’s Director of Glaucoma Service and a previous visiting international scholar, Dr. Suman Thapa, returns this month to the Kellogg Eye Center to present a talk about his experience in the aftermath of the April 2015 quake that killed 8,000, injured 21,000, and left an estimated half a million homeless.

Dr. Thapa, MD, PhD, will present “Life in the Year of the Earthquake” on May 11 at 5:30 p.m. inside the Kellogg Eye Center’s 6th floor resident education conference room.

Also a professional musician, Dr. Thapa performs across Nepal and the world, giving concerts to raise money for his charity, Ek Ek Paila (“Step By Step”) an earthquake relief fund. He will be performing a few of his songs at the Kellogg Eye Center directly following his presentation and has a full concert planned for May 12 at Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown Concert House.

“He was coming to Ann Arbor on his own, so we reached out to see if he might make a stop at Kellogg as well. He was very gracious and happy to do it,” said Donna Donato from the Kellogg Eye Center for International Ophthalmology. “His experiences providing eye care in this challenging region are incredible anyway, but when you consider the earthquake, it’s a truly remarkable story.”

He has partnerships and ongoing projects with multiple counterparts at the Kellogg Eye Center.

Dr. Thapa, who has partnerships and a number of ongoing projects and collaborations with counterparts at the Kellogg Eye Center, last visited U-M in 2014 to speak about delivering healthcare in one the world’s most mountainous, remote regions. The topic of this talk, a little more than a year since the disaster, will be very different, as he and his colleagues at Tilganga – many of whom lost homes themselves in the earthquake – have played a central role in local relief efforts. In addition to providing everything from much-needed trauma care services to shelter and housing, they have liaised with relief agencies, helping international aid workers access the hard-to-reach populations already known to Dr. Thapa and his teams.

RSVP to Ms. Donato at donnadon@med.umich.edu.