Last year our Club donated £700 to eye surgery camps in Dhaka, Bangladesh, organised by the Rotary Club of Dhaka. We've just received an update on this vision-restoring project that will make a real difference to those who can't afford surgery.
It's easy to take our eyesight for granted, but a loss of good vision can have a devastating impact on people's lives, affecting everything from livelihoods to day-to-day wellbeing. So, when members of our International Committee heard about eye camps being organised by the Rotary Club of Dhaka, they were keen to support the project, knowing the impact our support would have.
We’ve given donations to the Rotary Club of Dhaka before - for instance, to their emergency Covid-19/cyclone relief efforts, their creation of a Covid-19 testing lab that will help cancer patients, and their distribution of hygiene kits to girls, The Dhaka club is very well established and active; founded in 1937, it’s one of the oldest clubs in the country.
The latest batch of patients for free cataract surgeries were selected over a number of months at various camps around Bangladesh (in association with the Bangladesh Eye Trust Hospital). The way it works is that patients are pre-selected from different parts of the country and brought to the hospital during the camp days. The pre-selections are mostly based on local doctors' recommendations for operation, and the fact that the patient can't afford treatment.
The most recent camp was held in early January. Each surgery costs around 6,000 BDT (around £52 at today's rate), so our donation would have covered the costs for around 13 people (this covers the cost of the lens and operation theatre charges).
Surgeries were carried out by eye specialists on men and women aged between 30 and 95 who cannot afford to fund surgery themselves; camps were held around the country, including at Gazipur, Barisal and Comilla as well as around Dhaka, the capital.
The technique used for the cataract surgery is called "phaco" (phacoemulsion) and is said to have the following advantages, some of which are of particular importance when treating underprivileged individuals:
- No hospitalization required - surgery is "walk in, walk out".
- Faster recovery/rehabilitation.
- Less restriction on normal activities (including work).
Supporting this project has allowed us to bring the gift of improved sight to underprivileged individuals in rural as well as urbanised areas of the country.
For more information about the Rotary Club of Dhaka, click here.
Picture: Some of the patients that underwent surgery at the eye camps. (Pictures blurred to maintain patient privacy). Picture credit: Rotary Club of Dhaka/Rotary Club of Canterbury.