New eyes to see for 150

25 May 2017 11:00am
KEETMANSHOOP, 25 MAY (NAMPA) – Dozens of elderly people of the //Kharas, Hardap and Omaheke regions were full of smiles after undergoing cataract surgery at the Keetmanshoop State Hospital over the last few days.
On Wednesday, many of the approximately 150 beneficiaries whose eyesight was restored in operations since Saturday, praised God, doctors and Government.
The operations were done by outreach medical personnel of the eye clinic headed by acclaimed eye specialist, Helena Ndume.
Ndume and her team of medical volunteers conduct four regional outreaches annually.
The seven-day outreach in Keetmanshoop ends this Saturday and is hosted for patients from Namibia’s southern and eastern regions.
Keetmanshoop residents Katrina Frederick, 67, and Deborah Christiaans, 50, left the hospital with dark glasses shielding their eyes from the sun after their operations on Tuesday.
“Our patches were taken off this morning and our eyes are shining because they can see,” Christiaans exclaimed.
Frederick said she was “so thankful”.
The hospital booked 400 urgent cases for this eye camp, though less than that number arrived, //Kharas Regional Health Director Barth Muntenda said.
“Our region alone however, has 500 serious cataract cases,” he said, extending thanks to the outreach personnel for helping shoulder the burden.
The hospital’s only ophthalmic clinical officer, Sydney Mhlope said young people should consider careers in this field.
An operation-awaiting patient, Wilhelmina Witbooi, 66, who lives on a farm in the Aroab district, told Nampa she was praying for the doctors so they could help her see again.
Witbooi received a phone call on the farm from the hospital on Tuesday, telling her to make her way to Keetmanshoop.
Most of the patients are transported with Government vehicles to the regional eye clinics.
Ndume urged Namibians to find an area where they could assist “as Government can’t do it all alone”.
She further stressed that the eye clinic is not a one-woman operation and that credit should go to the entire team.
“It is not Ndume’s clinic. I couldn’t possibly do it alone, so give credit where credit is due,” she said, acknowledging the volunteers and doctors from Europe and Namibian private practice who offer their services.
Next year, the eye clinic will be in its 20th year, with Ndume saying that though the going gets tough, the rewards are endless.
“Yesterday, I found this old man in the ward reading a newspaper after his surgery and it made me so happy,” she said, showing a video of the encounter on her phone.
Ndume raised her voice at medical staff at hospitals who fail to give patients proper care.
“We are here because of them. When they come, treat them with respect, accommodate them properly and feed them good meals,” the doctor said.