By Zwelethu Zikhali
Hwange, September 01, 2016 – MORE than 400 villagers comprising elderly and minor children in parts of Hwange district last week received free eye treatment conducted by two doctors from USA.
This comes at a time when the majority of Zimbabweans are unemployed and cannot afford medical treatment with only 30 percent of the country’s population on medical insurance.
Doctors also sometimes demand cash upfront before they can attend to patients because medical aid societies are not remitting on time.
Twenty-three elderly locals had their eyes operated on to extend their cataracts at Hwange Colliery Hospital while the majority who included minors, underwent various eye check-ups at Lukosi, Dinde and Dete Clinics.
The eye camp programme started on Monday and ended on Friday and was organised by Youth in Business Development Association of Zimbabwe, a group of medical experts including doctors and nurses from Richard Morris Eye Centre at the United Bulawayo Hospitals.
Dr Steve Beaty and Dr Eric Bothum from Missouri University in USA, conducted the eye surgeries and check-ups.
“We are here to carry out eye treatment for disadvantaged people. We came on the invite of local doctors who we are training at UBH and this isn’t our first time after we had a similar exercise in March,” said Dr Beaty.
The programme coordinator Dr Makarichi Makarichin said the idea came about after realising that most rural based people could not afford eye treatment.
“This programme free of charge and we have hundreds of people who have booked for various procedures.
Twenty-three went through surgical operation while the rest are being checked on. No-one was given spectacles because they were only having their cataracts extended,” said Dr Makarichi.
He said this was a second eye camp following another one in March this year where about 400 people were attended to.
Last week, 100 were treated at Lukosi Clinic just outside Hwange town while close to 300 others were treated at Dete and Dinde clinics.
Richard Morris Eye Centre is the only major eye referral facility catering for Bulawayo, the two Matabeleland provinces, Midlands and Masvingo.
Recipients of the programme welcomed the idea of free eye treatment saying they had been struggling to raise money to go to hospital.
“I have been having problems with my eyes for the past two years. I once visited Hwange Colliery Hospital and was referred to Victoria Falls. I went there but they told me to go to Bulawayo. I couldn’t go because I had no money for transport and for consultation because I was told they would need $20 for consultation before they charge me for treatment,” said Charles Mathe, 78, from Luseche area.
He was happy after a surgery at Hwange Colliery Hospital last week.