Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Help is available for the visually impaired who can't afford medical treatments

Africa is home to one fifth of the world's visually impaired and at least 300 000 of them are South African. A medical team in KwaZulu-Natal is diligently working to help people who can't afford specialist care.Cataracts - which are preventable and treatable- are the main cause of blindness in the country.

Stanger Hospital plans to do more than 70 cataract operations during its cataract camp. In only six hours 13 operations were successfully completed. Patients are discharged after 24 hours, and many can see for the first time in years.More than 800 patients have already had cataracts removed. "In Stanger in the Ilembe district we made sure that no patients are moving around without getting any help.

If people have cataracts they should come to us to have them removed," Dr Azim Chowdury, a cataract surgeon, says.The operation would cost around R10 000 at a private facility, but a satellite operating centre will soon perform surgery in the poor rural areas. What is needed most now are the skills of committed specialists like Dr Azim Chowdury.


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