Chinese doctors perform free cataract surgeries in Nepal's rural communities
BAHRABISE, Nepal, March 28 (Xinhua) -- A dedicated team of Chinese doctors from the China Chengdu Aidi Eye Hospital has been performing cataract operations for free in Nepal's rural areas with about 60 Nepalese already saved from becoming blind.
"I thought I would be blind for the rest of my life but thanks to the Chinese doctors, I can now see," Durga Parsad Paudel, 80 years old, said with a smile as he proudly adjusted his new eyeglasses after his cataract was removed Thursday at the Keystone Hospital in Bahrabise, close to the Chinese border, 79 km north of Kathmandu.
Five years ago, Paudel could hardly see because of the cataract that was slowly enveloping his eyes. He was told that if the cataract is not removed, he will eventually become blind.
Paudel is just one of the estimated 60,000 Nepalese who might lose their sight due to cataract every year.
Many cases are actually preventable or treatable. Nearly half could be saved by a simple procedure that has become routine in many countries.
Paudel worked as an electrician but had to stop working because of blurred vision. He said some tiny grainy objects clouded his vision. What compounded his problem was that he had no money for the surgery.
He profusely thanked the Chinese doctors who performed cataract surgeries free of charge for poor Nepalese like him and even provided them with eyeglasses also for free.
In Nepal, some 70 percent of the people in danger of becoming blind have cataracts. At present, there is a backlog of 200,000 people who are visually impaired due to cataracts and need surgery but cannot afford it.
"A cataract surgery performed in a private hospital may cost around 12,000 Nepali rupees (about 120 U.S. dollars) which is too expensive for low-income households. But we are performing this surgery for free," Dr. Krishna Gopal Maharjan of the Arniko Society told Xinhua.
Doctors from the Arniko Society, along with the team of Chinese volunteer doctors, have been performing cataract operations in Nepal's rugged and remote regions, where modern eye care is often unheard of.
Sita Dahal, a woman in her 50s, said it took her the whole day just to reach the hospital from her village. "I could see fairly well and then a switch just flipped and my sight started getting worse two years ago," Dahal said.
Relatives who accompanied her to the hospital said that the fact that the surgery was free was a great relief for the whole family.
At a program organized by the Youth Chinese Committee of Shenzen to inaugurate the medical program on Thursday, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Wu Chuntai said that China will continue to support its southern neighbor in this humanitarian endeavor.
Representatives of the Nepal government, Buddhist monks from the Chinese Temple in Lumbini, Chinese doctors from the China Chengdu Aidi Eye Hospital as well as members of the Arniko Society also attended the inauguration.