ABOUT 60 free cataract extractions have been done at the Harare Central Hospital since Wednesday by Korean and Zimbabwean Doctors.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Speaking on the sidelines of an eye camp set up by United States based Koreans Vision Care -founder and president Dr Dong-Hae Kim said they were targeting a 100 patients.
“The program here is Vision Eye Camp. Our group or organisation is Vision Care. Our slogan is restore sight and share vision because there are so many patients to treat. Globally, About 70 to 80 percent of patients have avoidable blindness.
“And 70 to 80 percent of these cases can be treated. The most common cause of blindness is cataract. Its very common in Zimbabwe. That is why we are coming here for the operation of cataract. Cataract is a very simple or easy operation to restore eyesight. We have to remove the cataract and put some eyewear or lense in the eye. So we are coming here to do operations together with the Zimbabwean doctors,” he said.
He however bemoaned the tiresome processes they endured to get their equipment into the country.
“We had some difficulties yesterday, even today and tomorrow. Everything was not easy setting up. The big problem was with the customs. We had the problem with the customs in terms of our equipment and medical supplies. We had our papers for preparation. Finally we cleared everything,” he said.
Dr Kim also observed that the hospital is ill-equipped in terms of consumables and staff for eye treatment.
“Yesterday we started operations here but our problem is there is no equipment available here. We brought our machine. Every hospital should have at least a big microscope we use for the eye screening and treatment. That is why we could do some of the advanced techniques in cataract operation.
Yesterday we did 20 operations. Today we are booking 30 operations. But tomorrow we are booking for the operation but as you know there is a big problem so we won’t be doing any operation.
“You can see so many patients waiting here but we couldn’t do. We are very sorry. We are looking forward to be doing 41 operations today. We are trying to these today.” said Dr Kim.
Dr Kim also said this is their second time in the country having been here in 2016 in Gutu.
Harare Hospital’s head ophthalmologist Dr Martina Kawome said the program was being done by the Koreans and the University of Zimbabwe.
“This is a program being run by the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences’ Ophthalmology Department and their partners in Korea with the aim of removing cataracts to reduce blindness. We wanted to do about 100 operations with an excess of 150 patients,” she said adding that they started doing these operations Wednesday.
“We are doing some today. we are hoping tomorrow but tomorrow we might not because we feel it is not safe,” she said.
One of the patients who came from Mhondoro welcomed this initiative saying it has helped her regain her eyesight.
At Harare Hospital, removing a cataract in one eye costs around ZW$250 to ZW$300 inclusive of a ZW$12 consultation fee, theatre time, gas used, as well as consumables.