Dr Ronnie Bhola, 48, is the director and consultant ophthalmologist at the Caribbean Vitreous & Retina Surgery Limited (CVRS Ltd) and currently, the chairman of the Trinidad Eye Hospital. He is a British-trained eye consultant with sub-specialty training in vitreous and retina surgery and is currently an associate lecturer with the University of the West Indies and an adjunct professor with the Moran Eye Institute.
Speaking with the Sunday Guardian, Bhola said all year long, many patients postpone or cancel their eye surgery appointments due to lack of funds to pay for their operations.
“Some lose their eyesight simply because they remain on waiting lists in desperate need of operation. These patients struggle with everyday needs and are forced to be dependent on others because of avoidable visual impairment,” Bhola said.
Bhola’s drive to help others is not only about his compassion and empathy towards patients, but it is in keeping with the Ministry of Health’s plan to reduce the backlog of cataract surgeries and the World Health Organization’s global initiative to ‘Eliminate Avoidable Blindness, VISION 2020: The Right to Sight’.
Since 2013, Bhola has coordinated a team of surgeons, nurses, healthcare professionals and sponsors to give back on an annual basis by performing cataract surgeries for free. This year is no different; he has so far done over $2.5 million in surgeries free of charge.
Bhola will be having a similar charity event next year called “Christmas in July!”
“The management and staff of Trinidad Eye Hospital are grateful for this opportunity, taking example from many other medical practitioners who have used their skills throughout the year to do charitable service in patient communities across our country,” he said.
Bhola, who grew up in Fyzabad, attended the University of the West Indies Jamaica (1993-MBBS), Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh (1999-FRCS), University of Sheffield (2006-Dip Ed) and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists London (2007-CCT).
One of this year’s recipient of Bhola’s gift, Fariza Khan, of Carapichaima, praised Bhola on his “good deeds” and urged other doctors to follow suit. “It is a major sacrifice that he is doing and it shows that he is grateful to the people and the community by him giving back in this form and if other doctors should do the same, this country will be a better place in terms of where healthcare is supposed to be at.
“I am grateful to the doctor for having me be part of this…it is a miracle come true for me and I cannot wait to see perfectly again in my left eye…May Allah continue to bless him,” Khan added.