By Jackie Clausen
Makhanda has a proud history of dealing with eye care for all, with Dr Trevor Davies having run eye clinics for the past 30 years. Before Covid-19, Makhanda was one of the leading places for cataract surgery, with a shorter turnaround time for state-sector patients. But when Covid-19 came around, all elective surgeries shut down.
Since the pandemic, cataract surgeries have started up again but the provincial hospitals have not been able to catch up. Some people have been waiting for between two and four years for the relatively short 10-minute operation.
The Eiohn Hayes Foundation has partnered with Settlers’ (Provincial) Hospital and a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Medical Mission ESwatini and Grace Vision, to fundraise for the equipment to do the operations at Settlers. Local Makhanda optometrist Dr Trevor Davies said “we have now got the equipment needed, as well as doctors and nurses on board who have volunteered their services. We will begin the first cataract surgeries at Settlers’ Hospital on 9, 10 and 11 May along with Dr Emma Pons from Gqeberha”.
On 20 April, over 30 Makhanda residents on the cataract waiting list attended Davies’ practice to have pre-operation checks done.
“We will operate on the first 26 patients in May in the first round, and the balance of patients will have surgery a month or two later. Then we will continue populating those lists and carrying it on every couple of months; essentially eliminating preventable blindness in Makhanda”, Davies added.
“While this is a challenge, as the consumables do come at a cost (hence the help of NGOs), we have received a commitment from the Department of Health for funding going forward, so we feel confident that we should be on track with our goal of eliminating preventable blindness in the area
in the next year or so”, Davies added.
(Jackie Clausen is a journalist and marketing consultant for Dr Trevor Davies).