Lao, Chinese medics provide free cataract surgery

Eye specialists from China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region carry out checks on Lao patients. - VT

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Lao eye specialists and ophthalmologists from China’s GX Foundation are providing free cataract surgery and eye health checks in Vientiane, aiming to help people regain their eyesight.

Surgery is conducted on board two Mobile Eye Treatment Centres, which are fully equipped to perform cataract surgery in just 20 minutes.

A ceremony to launch the GX Foundation’s “Cataract Blindness Elimination Project” took place last week and was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, GX Foundation Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Leung Chun-ying, and Laos’ Minister of Health, Dr Bounfeng Phoummalaysith.

Other guests took part in the ceremony online.

The ceremony marked the start of a three-year project which aims to eliminate thousands of cases of cataract blindness across Laos and provides cataract surgery free of charge to underprivileged elderly people in Laos, starting in Vientiane.

The GX Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Health in 2019 on a five-year cooperation on this project.

The Foundation opened its first overseas field office in Vientiane in June 2021, to enhance people-to-people connectivity and deepen the friendship between China and Laos.

As the first non-governmental organisation to resume work in Laos after the Covid pandemic, the GX Foundation hopes to resume exchanges between the people of Laos and China through the cataract blindness elimination project.

Under the project, a 10-person medical team from Southwest China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has arrived in Vientiane to share their medical expertise.

Sonexay said people who undergo cataract surgery will have a better life, and the services provided will contribute to efforts to improve the quality of life for the people of Laos.

“It is the goal of the Lao government to bring about sustainable development and overcome current difficulties, whether economic, financial, energy, public health, or in other fields,” he said.

Chairman of the GX Foundation, Leung Chun-ying, said “In the last two years, exchanges between the Chinese and Lao people have been disrupted by the global pandemic.”

“We hope this situation can soon be contained so that we can resume our cataract project and serve out our mission, as well as consolidate the friendship between the people of our two countries.”

As part of the project, the Foundation has donated 60 patient monitors, 10 ventilators, 1,500,000 surgical masks, 30,000 surgical gowns, 160,000 gloves, 10,000 safety goggles, and 10,000 face shields.

According to the National Ophthalmology Centre in Vientiane, a recent survey estimated that 3 per cent of the population aged 50 and above is severely visually impaired.

This prevalence level contrasts with that of a developed country such as Australia, where the figure is less than 1 percent.

The cataract incidence rate among the population in Asean member countries is 0.1 per cent.

Cases are mostly found in the elderly, while others occur because of eye injuries, diabetes, and genetic defects. But the condition can easily be treated, according to the World Health Organization.

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Laos , China , cataract , surgery


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