How could this miracle in Myanmar be possible?

mynamar lady after receiving eye surgery from Fred Hollows Foundation

For this year’s World Health Day, celebrated on April 7, we’d like to share with you something extraordinary. The Intrepid Foundation‘s long-term partner, The Fred Hollows Foundation, recently supported the largest eye camp of its kind in Myanmar.

In this remarkable two minute video you can witness Dr Ruit, one of the world’s best surgeons, performing 10 cataract operations in just 80 minutes. This has to be seen to be believed.

“The numbers are very striking, but what you will see is that so much effort has been put into quality assurance. Every eye is an eye,” said Dr Sanduk Ruit.

Over two weeks Dr Ruit and his team restored sight to 1,242 people at two eye camps funded by The Fred Hollows Foundation. A further two are planned in 2014.

“The Foundation has made a life-changing difference to some of the poorest people in Myanmar,” said Brian Doolan, CEO of The Fred Hollows Foundation. The country has one of the highest rates of blindness in the world, peaking at 8.1 per cent in rural areas. Cataracts are to blame for 60 per cent of this loss of sight.

In Myanmar, more than 4,000 people answered advertisements for the free surgery. After screening for other conditions, 1,600 were selected for the cataract camps. The surgery in Yangon and Bago was led by Dr Ruit. He is Medical Director of the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Nepal and is one of Asia’s best known eye surgeons.

Some patients expressed a hope that they would be able to work again after their operation. Others simply wanted to be able to see the buddha or care for their grandchildren properly. “I am really happy because I have got my sight back again,” said Daw Tin Hla from Kawa Township outside Yangon. “They told me to walk very slowly but I didn’t. I am eager to walk very quickly. After the operation I feel free.”

team of doctors and eye surgeons

Dr Ruit pioneered small incision cataract surgery that needs no stitches, a method that can take just minutes per patient to complete and that he has taught in a number of countries. He also wants to help provide other training for support staff and at a community level.

“One of the problems in Myanmar is a lack of paramedical staff and I think that this is one that other NGOs and supporters should get together and to see whether we can establish a separate paramedical program,” said Dr Ruit. “Secondly, we should ramp up the paramedical nursing and I think it’s very important to take this service to the community in Myanmar.”

Professor Fred Hollows met Dr Ruit in Nepal in the 1980s and the pair became close friends and collaborators. The Fred Hollows Foundation helped establish and continues to support the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology.

THE STATS
- Globally, there are over 32.4 million people who are blind and 191 million people who are visually impaired.
- For four out of five blind people, blindness is avoidable. That is 80% of blindness and vision loss can be either prevented or treated.
- Avoidable blindness occurs all over the world, but by far the greatest burden is carried by developing countries. 90% of those who are blind live in developing countries.
- Of those that are blind, 60% are women.
- Poverty is both a cause and consequence of blindness.

The Intrepid Foundation is a proud supporter of The Fred Hollows Foundation. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$400,000 in each financial year and a maximum of AU$5,000 per donor in each financial year.

All information supplied by The Fred Hollows Foundation. Follow on Facebook or Twitter.
Photos credit: The Fred Hollows Foundation by Michael Amendolia

About the author

Jane Crouch - Jane is currently Intrepid Travel's Responsible Business Communications Specialist and writes about all aspects of how travel can bring positive environmental, social and economic benefits. Informed through travel on 7 continents, leading Intrepid trips through SE Asia, work in outdoor education, energy conservation, international development, travellers philanthropy and climate change action, plus a big love of walking, mountains and world music.

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2 comments

Giving someone ability to see again is such a good deed. I want to congratulate Fred Hollows Foundation for achieving this milestone.

Wow that’s a good deeds, Myanmar is not just a place to make more business like many business corporation may think. It’s a new place to share a bit of our knowledge, kindness in exchange of smile, Humility and real life benefits

Congrats to all the people involved in the Fred hollow foundation

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