Feature: China's brightness journey program continues to restore sparkle in Namibians eyes
WINDHOEK, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- Having struggled with his eye-sight for almost a decade, a clearly elated, Charl Van Niekirk emerged from the operation theater with a smile, following a successful cataract-removal surgery conducted by a Chinese ophthalmologist in Windhoek's Central Hospital.
"Over the 9 years, the problem in my eyes had constantly hampered my work. I can safely say I am ready to continue with work," the 74-year old man said in an interview with Xinhua, following a successful procedure in Windhoek.
Van Niekerk is among those persons in the southwestern African nation that are affected by cataracts, which result in blindness, but thanks to China's Brightness Action program that offers free cataract surgeries, he has had his near-perfect eye-sight restored.
"The surgery took less than 10 minutes and it went smoothly. The Chinese doctor who conducted it, did it in a manner that I did not feel any discomfort and I am grateful," he said, adding that he awaits to have an operation in his left eye next year.
China's Brightness Action program which commenced in 2018 has been able to relieve the pain of more than 240 local patients from Windhoek and northwestern Namibia in Rundu.
Ophthalmic Clinical officer, Elizabeth Mbandeka, who assists the Chinese team, commended the Chinese on the work that they have thus performed on the beneficiaries.
"I have been assisting them since the commencement of the program and I must admit that the Chinese team is sharp and their work ethic is flawless," she said, adding that they have not encountered any challenges in working side by side.
According to Mbandeka, the team as of next week, Monday, Nov. 11, will be at the Onandjokwe state hospital, in the northern parts of the country in Ondangwa, to perform more surgeries to remove cataracts, following successful procedures in Windhoek.
Director of the Chinese Department of Ophthalmology, Chen Youxin, who is currently conducting surgeries in Windhoek told Xinhua that so far the operations that have been conducted have yielded good results and this time around they target around 250 patients at the two bases.
"This time around we need to perform more surgeries and not just cataract operations but other complex procedures like retinal detachment among others, and we will be able to do so under remote consultation through telemedicine," he said
The Chinese medical has since installed teleconsultation systems and equipment for the Windhoek Central Hospital to improve the overall diagnosis and treatment level of its ophthalmology, he said.
Renowned Namibian and director of the hospital's ophthalmology department, Helena Ndume, told Xinhua that Namibia is really grateful for the assistance and her team is learning a lot from the Chinese team, while the Chinese are also picking up a lot from their Namibia counterparts.
"The telemedicine unit they have put up is set to change the face of medicine in the country and our department. We are set to stay abreast of international standards and we are grateful to be introduced to such technology," she added.
Meanwhile, Ndume hopes that the cooperation between the two countries will continue as the Chinese donation and assistance continue to assist the country in the entire medical field and not only just the eye department.
The Chinese medical team consists of 9 members, including 5 doctors, 3 nurses, and 1 medical engineer, from Peking Union Medical College Hospital and the First Affiliated Hospital of Peking University, representing the highest level of Chinese ophthalmology.
Since 2011, China Medical Teams have conducted the Eye Care Bright Journey in more than 30 countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean, bringing eyesight back to thousands of patients.