Nov 30, 2020

Surgical Outreach Work Resumes in Ghana

After pausing outreach events in mid-March in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, HCP’s partners in Ghana have carefully resumed small-scale outreach and surgical care, shifting the focus from high-volume to smaller-scale, continuous surgeries in order to provide essential eye care.

These outreach efforts are planned in coordination with local teams and adhere to the Covid-19 protocols enacted by their governments to ensure the health and safety of the patients and medical providers. Given the shift away from high-volume care, the outreaches take place over longer periods of time.

Partners at the Friends Eye Center in Ghana conducted an outreach in the Upper West region throughout September, providing 591 sight-restoring surgeries. The outreach was led by long-time HCP partner Dr. Seth Wayne with a team of Ghanaian nurses and ophthalmic assistants.

HCP partners in Ghana anticipate providing an additional 1,200 surgeries over the next two months. HCP's work in Ghana is made possible in part with generous support from Latter-Day Saints Charities (LDS-C).

Nov 30, 2020

One Million Surgeries!

The Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP) announced recently that the eye care organization achieved a major milestone. Together with its collective network of partners around the world, the HCP has reached and surpassed over one million sight-restoring surgeries.

The Vermont-based nonprofit organization was founded twenty-five years ago by Drs. Geoff Tabin and Sanduk Ruit to eradicate unnecessary cataract blindness in the Himalayan region. Dr. Ruit, who NY Times writer Nicholas Kristof suggests, “may have cured more people of blindness than anyone in history,” pioneered a low-cost, high-volume surgical technique, which can be conducted in non-hospital settings.

Since its founding ,the HCP has reached needlessly blind people in the most remote and underserved areas of the world. HCP and its implementing partners have brought life-changing eye care to over 20 countries throughout Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with a continual focus on training local personnel, leveraging partnerships, and enhancing local eye care infrastructure.

“When someone is cured of cataracts, they are no longer a statistic. They are able to get their life back, Tabin said. “We have succeeded beyond my wildest expectations, but we still have a long way to go. When we started the HCP, there was an overwhelming cataract problem in Nepal which we thought would take a lifetime to overcome; and now there is a fully mature eye care system and ophthalmology training program. Our work has spread across the world. As we look ahead, there are still 17 million people in the world blind from cataracts. Blindness is a problem we can win - treatable blindness is low hanging fruit of global public health.”

Since 1995, HCP has supported and worked in concert with over 50 implementing partners in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa to eradicate preventable and curable blindness with a concurrent strategy of surgical outreach, training local personnel to build in-country eye care programs, and establishing eye care infrastructure to ensure sustainability of care. Twenty five years of investing in this successful model has allowed HCP and our partners to increase surgical volume and quality of care. In early 2020, through both all-partner and HCP-supported surgeries, the HCP passed the one million surgery mark.

To date, HCP and its network of partners have provided screenings and basic treatment to 12,631,504 people and performed over 1,015,992 sight restoring surgeries. During that same time, we have trained over 18,000 eye care professionals , including 552 ophthalmologists. The HCP has also worked to help build and equip four dedicated eye hospitals and training institutions.

When a person regains their sight, the impact extends well beyond each individual patient. Regained sight lifts families and communities out of poverty. The cost effectiveness and impact of treating blindness are known to be among the greatest in medicine - comparable to immunizations. With a material cost of $25, cataract surgery can restore sight and life to a blind person in 10 minutes. 

Nov 30, 2020

Happiness sparked in Saipal, Nepal

Scanning the surrounding mountains with newly-unbandaged eyes Pyaru Bohora, a 77-year-old patient exclaimed, “Oh, it’s morning! I can see now!” Her happiness could be felt rising like the warmth given off by the morning sun. Pyaru, a resident from Bajhang, was under the expert care of Dr. Reeta Gurung, CEO of Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology.

 

 

The Rural Municipality of Saipal is home to less than 3,000, and eye-related problems affect 25% of the population, mainly due to unavailability of services. Many of the patients have gone 10 to 12 years without any treatment.

 

Pyaru, who had been silent before having her sight restored, remarked, “There are so many people around. How do I recognize all these people dressed in red, black, and yellow dresses? Where are they from?”

 

Dr. Gurung pointed toward a teenage boy and asked Pyaru if she recognized him. Pyaru looked at him for a moment before replying that she did not. Someone from the crowd then indicated that the young boy is Pyaru’s grandson who had carried her to the camp.

 

“Birendra, you have grown so big,” said the grateful grandmother, unable to hold back the tears of joy that rolled down her face. Pyaru’s grandson was very small a decade ago when she lost her sight.

 

People at the outreach were moved as Pyaru blessed Dr. Gurung for restoring her sight so late in her life.

 

“You brought me back from the grave and showed me light. I wish you a very long life,” she said. “I have no money. If I had some, I would offer it to you.” Dr. Gurung’s eyes teared upon hearing the kind words from Pyaru.

 

Nearby, a 60-year-old patient sang and danced to celebrate the restoration of her eyesight after five years of darkness. Another patient, a 55-year-old from Dhuli commented that, “It feels like someone has opened doors during sunrise. My world has become bright now...I feel motivated to live longer.”

 

During the two-day outreach in October, 56 patients received sight-restoring cataract surgery. In addition, 380 pairs of glasses were distributed. A total of 643 patients were screened to determine if surgical intervention or glasses could improve their vision at the event organized by Geta Eye Hospital and District Hospital, Bajhang.

 
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