Eye surgeries in Africa

June 2018 – Zambia, Kenya and Burkina Faso

“I thought I would never see the wonders of this world again,” said one of the patients after a successful cataract surgery in Burkina Faso.

Once again, medical practitioners from Spain joined with local ones in Africa to bring free eye surgeries to people living in poverty. Doctors operated on 518 patients with 216 in Zambia, 232 in Kenya and 70 in Burkina Faso.

In Zambia, this was a first time for the medical eye camp and so, it was a challenge. It was scheduled over 10 days and the location was the Minga Hospital in Petauke, a town 400 km east from the capital of Lusaka. There was no operating theatre, so one had to be improvised in one of the hospital rooms.

The patients were selected by three ophthalmic nurses who travelled more than 100 km east and west of the hospital to find them. The people were ensured of free surgeries, hospital stays and transfer.

“A patient in a wheelchair applauded to thank us,” says Dr. Isabel. “He was very happy because he could see much better. Although we do not speak the same language, the language of the heart has no barriers.”

Most of the patients were adults, but a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old were also operated on with both procedures being successful.

Even by West African standards, Burkina Faso is considered very poor. It is a landlocked country that has suffered both from recurring droughts and military coups.

“It is the place in which we work that needs the most help,” explains Dr. Isabel. “The faces of those blind people always come to my mind, and so we accept the risk.”

The camp was held in the capital city of Ouagadougou. People with a Catholic mission requested the help because they had cataract patients in great need. Most were already blind with the maximum sight at 10 per cent.

“I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to serve such needy people so directly. And happy to have been able to work every day and not have any major complications.” says Dr. Isabel who heads the operation team.