ENGELA – Renowned ophthalmologist Dr Helena Ndume, with the assistance of five other doctors from Namibia and the United States of America (USA), has been restoring sight at the Engela District Hospital since Saturday.
Before lunch yesterday, the team had restored sight for at least 350 patients, the majority of whom are pensioners.
At least 427 patients from various regions have registered for the eye campaign at Engela.
The campaign at Engela ends tomorrow.
The annual eye campaign is hosted in collaboration with the USA-based Alcon Laboratories which provides consumables used during the campaign, as well as See International which provides for the American doctors in the campaign.
The two companies have been on board since the inception of the programme in 1997 with Alcon injecting at least N$1.5 million yearly.
So far this year the team has operated on 383 patients in Rundu and 403 in Oshakati.
The team also visited the Democratic Republic of Congo where they operated on 187 patients.
The team will round up its yearly campaign in Oshikuku next month.
Ndume said the operation mainly involves the removal of cataracts which is mostly caused by ageing.
“Cataract is caused by old age, the sun can also contribute; trauma to the eye, other systematic diseases,” said Ndume.
In addition to removing cataracts, the team also treats other patients such as those with eye trauma they find at the hospital.
She said cataract is most common in the two Kavango regions as well as the five northern regions.
The head of corporate and social responsibility at Alcon, Melissa Thompson, said her company is committed to the project because of its outcome.
“The team is restoring sight to people and their independence and it contributes to their safety. We want to continue to support the project because it touches so many lives; it is not just the people who have gone through surgery but it affects their families too,” said Thompson.
Patients who have undergone surgery were full of praise for Ndume and chanted songs to express their gratitude.
One such patient was the elderly Monika Haufiku who had slowly lost her vision in the last eight years.
Another patient Shali David said he had struggled to get on the list for the past three years.
He said he previously had an operation on his left eye and had been fighting to get the right eye operated on.
“This is manna from heaven that I will now be able to use both my eyes,” said Shali.
Shali lost his vision after a snake spat in his eyes.