How could this miracle in Myanmar be possible?
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.”
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.
- 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.