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Sightsavers Reports

Meet the team saving sight in Mozambique

May 2016
Dr Anselmo with eye technician Domingos Geraldo and Signtsavers' Christina Abudo outside Ribaue Hospital.

A year after launching our Million Miracles campaign in Malawi, we’re in Mozambique for a few weeks to follow the life-changing work of Sightsavers’ cataract surgery outreach.

Knowledge of eye health among the public is poor; there’s a lack of specialist equipment, and there are not enough skilled eye care workers available. Here in the province of Nampula, where we are now, there are only three ophthalmologists who are qualified to perform cataract operations on a population of nearly four million.

One of these is Dr Anselmo Vilanculos, the head ophthalmologist at Nampula Central Hospital. When we chat to him, he tells us there are huge barriers to reaching and operating on the estimated 33,000 people in need of cataract surgery in Nampula. But he also tells us that the work of Sightsavers – the services and people that are funded with the help of our supporters – is “making a big difference” and “finding solutions”.

Dr Anselmo Vilanculos.
Dr Anselmo Vilanculos.

Providing healthcare to rural areas

In particular, he says it’s the regular work of the outreach surgery team that he leads, along with two other surgeons, that’s having the greatest impact. The dedicated team use limited resources and visit a district hospital for two to four weeks a month.

From there, ophthalmic technicians drive to surrounding areas to bring people to hospital who have been referred for cataract surgery. In just two weeks, 145 operations can be performed, compared with 40 at Nampula Central Hospital. It really is the only hope for people who cannot afford to travel to the area’s main hospital, as Dr Anselmo explains.

“A large number of the people we are operating on now, they have been blind for 10 years,” he says. “Once more the question is: why didn’t these people come for help? And the answer is they do not have money to go to hospital. Without the support of the mobile clinic, people who live in a rural area wouldn’t be treated.”

 

The work of the surgery outreach team is vital to the lives and futures of thousands of people living here in Nampula. It’s the difference between seeing and not seeing, working and not working, going to school, harvesting crops, getting water from the well, looking at the faces of loved ones again and living a much more independent life.

Ribaue hospital building.

“Without the support of the mobile clinic, people who live in a rural area wouldn’t be treated.”

Ribaue hospital building.

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