A partnership between an aid organisation and the KZN Department of Health will go a long way in clearing the backlog of 3000 people needing treatment for eye ailments and 6000 on the waiting list for life changing eye surgery.
KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo praised the team at McCord Provincial Eye Hospital for performing about 30 cataract removal surgeries a day.
“But with this support from IIROSA (International Islamic Relief Organisation of South Africa), they can push the daily operations to 100,” he said.
This help means the ability to see clearly again for people like Menzi Mdluli, 23, from Reservoir Hills. He sought help after ignoring discomfort caused by a growth in his eye for months.
“I thought at the clinic they would just give me eye drops or glasses but they referred me to McCords for an operation. I didn’t realise what a big problem the growth could have caused - being blind - but it was not a scary surgery to remove it,” said Mdluli.
Mdluli spoke to The Mercury after coming out of the operating theatre.
On the way in was Nombuso Ngcobo, 41, from Ndwedwe.
Her eye started itching and producing a discharge more than a year ago. “I couldn’t see clearly, it was misty.”
As her condition worsened, she strained her right eye which was was the only one she could see through.
“I was afraid that I would end up blind, so I sought help. Luckily it was not too late and I could still get help.”
It took just 10 minutes for McCord ophthalmologist Dr Kapil Moodley to remove the cataract on Ngcobo’s eye.
During these IIROSA camps, the organisation pays for all the consumable, medicine, transport, lenses, and what ever else is needed.
“McCord is able to do 30 cataract removal surgeries a day. With support from IIROSA, they push the daily operations to 100, so if they are here for a week, it’s 500 people who are given back their sight,” said Dhlomo.
At the hospital on Thursday, there was a busload of people who were brought in from Dundee to have the operation.
Sheikh Walid El Saadi, Southern Africa regional director of IIROSA - said the organisation was committed to serving the underprivileged. “We look at the importance of eyesight, some people never see their grandchildren.
"Almost 60% of blindness in Southern Africa is because of the eye cataract."
While the cost of removing cataracts is not very exorbitant, many people cannot afford it, he said.
“We came up with this programme to make sure that we serve these people and bring back their eyesight.”
This year alone, the organisation was aiming to perform 1500 surgeries in South Africa and aimed for 2500 next year. In Southern Africa, they did 6000 surgeries.
“We have a complete team of doctors and nurses who move with us but we are lucky that in South Africa we don’t need them because we have McCord Hospital who partner with us. We provide whatever they ask for but we are thankful to them for allowing us to use their theatres... the doctors are here, the nurses are here, their doors are open for us,” said El Saadi.
Among the nurses at the hospital, are some who studied ophthalmic nursing and were among the 1400 specialist nurses at the department’s graduation last week.