Rotary’s Journey in Childhood Eye Cancer Awareness and Support with Open Eyes Nepal


During my presidency at the Rotary Club of Yala, Rotarian Sushil Bajracharya informed me about his recent encounter with Dr. Purnima Rajkarnikar Sthapit (HOD Oculoplastic and Ocular Oncology) from the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology. They discussed an intriguing topic: Retinoblastoma, also known as Childhood Eye Cancer. Sushil suggested organizing a talk program on this subject within our club.

In September 2022, she presented her talk on Retinoblastoma. Retinoblastoma is the most common type of eye cancer, arising from primitive retinal cells. It is a primary intraocular malignancy, mostly observed in children up to 5 years of age. It occurs in 1 of every 15,000 live births and has a 5% mortality rate in developed countries, which can rise up to 50% in developing countries. While it is a life-threatening disease, if diagnosed properly and treated promptly, it can be cured.

Taking the Leap: Dive into Retinoblastoma Awareness

The presentation was useful, and as a result, we decided to prepare a proposal on Retinoblastoma for a district grant. Dr. Purnima introduced us to Umang Sharma from Open Eyes Nepal (NGO). After a few online and offline meetings, we prepared the proposal and submitted it to the Rotary District 3292 Nepal, Bhutan office.

Project Description

The Rotary Club of Yala conducted a project aimed at enhancing community awareness of childhood eye cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment across different locations in the Kathmandu Valley during 2023-2024. The project included:

  • Organizing awareness campaigns and seminars targeting prospective parents, new parents, medical staff, and doctors, focusing on retinoblastoma.
  • Collaborating with various organizations such as Open Eyes Nepal, Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, Prashuti Griha, Manmohan Memorial Nursing College, Kathmandu Model Hospital School of Nursing, Kathmandu Medical College and Teaching Hospital, in partnership with Rotary Club of Yala, to raise awareness and detect retinoblastoma in children.
  • Distributing brochures and providing lunch during the seminars to all attendees, with additional distribution to affiliated hospitals.
  • Supporting the treatment of four eye cancer patients.
  • Rotary Club leaders, President Rtn Gautam Shrestha and Past President Rtn Sushil Bajracharya, emphasized the pivotal role of Rotary organizations worldwide to non-Rotarians. They highlighted the significant positive impact these organizations make on communities through various projects and initiatives.

First Step

We diligently prepared all the necessary arrangements and were filled with excitement for our inaugural program at Prasuti Griha (Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital, Thapathali) on May 24, 2023. This collaboration with Open Eyes Nepal marked our first program, and we anticipated 80 participants. However, the program exceeded our expectations with 99 registered attendees. Dr. Purnima Rajkarnikar Sthapit delivered a compelling presentation on early childhood cancer awareness, while Umang Sharma provided a concise overview of Open Eyes Nepal. Rotarian Gautam Shretha, President of the Rotary Club of Yala, underscored the significant role played by Rotary organizations worldwide. The vote of thanks to the organizers was graciously delivered by Dr. Pawanjung Raymajhi, the Hospital Director, and Dr. Shailendra Bir Karmacharya. We ensured that each participant received a lunch box as a token of our appreciation.

Expanding Reach

After the successful implementation of our inaugural awareness program, we furthered our efforts by conducting sessions at various institutions: Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences on May 25, 2023; Kathmandu Model Hospital School of Nursing on May 28, 2023; Kanti Hospital on June 1, 2023; and Kathmandu Medical College and Teaching Hospital on June 26, 2023. Leveraging the positive momentum from our initial event, we aimed to reach a broader audience and increase awareness about retinoblastoma and its impact on childhood eye health. The doctors, nurses, medical team, and parents who attended the seminar directly benefited from the knowledge shared. This initiative reached a total of 414 individuals.

Throughout these programs, we were fortunate to have resource persons from our collaborating organizations.

Resource Person from Tilganga Institue of Ophthalmology
1. Dr Purnima Rajkarnikar Sthapit, HOD of Oculoplastic and Ocular Oncology at Tilganga
2. Dr Anushree Adhikary, MD at Tilganga Institue of Ophthalmology
3. Dr Malita Amatya, Oculoplastic surgeon at Tilganga Institue of Ophthalmology

Resource Person from Open Eyes Nepal
1. Ms Umang Sharma
2. Ms Suchita Shrestha
3. Mr Rabin Shrestha

Resource Person from Rotary Club of Yala
1.         Mr Gautam Shrestha
2.         Mr Sushil Bajracharya

Financial Support to Eye Cancer Kids

KIST Medical College was granted a contribution of Rs. 25,000 from RC Yala to aid the courageous 6-year-old Saugat Chadara in his valiant battle against eye cancer. This financial assistance, coordinated through the Medical Rehabilitation Organization, provides essential support for Saugat’s journey towards recovery. Additionally, Sushil Ale Magar, who is combating eye cancer, received medicine supplies worth Rs. 34,060 as a donation. Furthermore, RC Yala extended assistance to Saransh Thapa, a resilient 3-year-old battling Acute Leukemia, with a generous contribution of Rs. 45,000. This support facilitated the provision of Onconase Peg medicine, greatly contributing to Saransh’s vital recovery process. Finally, a financial aid of Rs. 6,000 was allocated to Sankalpa Rai (11) from Salyan District, who is bravely fighting Retinoblastoma.

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