IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) is an award-winning humanitarian news and analysis service covering the parts of the world often under-reported, misunderstood or ignored. In a recently published report which outlined the work carried out by agencies and charities IRIN highlights a grave issue in Pakistan. There are approximately four million blind people in Pakistan, 1.5 million in the Punjab region alone. If proper measures are not taken, that figure will reach three million by the year 2020.
With cataracts accounting for 66 percent of all blindness and glaucoma 12 percent in the nation of 150 million, the need to improve preventative care is undeniable.
There is a lack of human resources, coupled with a lack of training facilities for qualified ophthalmologists the prevention measures are difficult to put in place.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a ratio of one ophthalmologist per 100,000 population, Pakistan has only one eighth of the required number.
Compounding the problem further is a lack of the necessary infrastructure combined with little modern technology at the district level. Poorly maintained equipment and the absence of any referral chain along with a lack of motivation, advocacy, awareness or monitoring and evaluation, also play a part in the problem.
Still another cause for the country’s high prevalence is that there is no system for the prioritisation of need, whether it be sufferers from glaucoma, cataracts or diabetes-related blindness.
the WELL Foundations Pakistan eye care programme is currently running in the district of Toba Tek Singh. Toba Tek Singh is located in central Punjab and occupies 3252 square kilometres and is made up of large areas of lowlands. According to the 1998 census of Pakistan the population was 805,580 of this, 520,601 were Muslim and 284,979 were non-Muslim (mainly Christian). According to the 2008 estimate the population had risen to 1.39 million. The district has several hundred surrounding villages and small communities. There are varying levels of employment in these mostly rural areas, the bulk of the people work the land or are labourers. Many thousands are without work and rely on support from families, hand outs from local communities or the occasional labouring job. The densely populated main town offers most amenities. However a greater percentage of the surrounding population will never make it beyond their villages or small communities due to the lack of resources and funds for travelling, they will purchase or barter in the local village shops.
In a population over 1 million people in the district there are many thousands who struggle for basic care and medical help. Those who suffer from cataract suffer greatly as care can be unreachable and expensive, families and the individuals suffering will struggle on until it is too late and they lose their sight completely.
The well foundation offers the eye camp to the needy through the course of multiple sessions spread out across the district. The assessment day provides the opportunity for the ophthalmologist to assess the patients. One the day the charity also arranges a male and female doctor. People with minor eye issues are treated on the day and free medication provided. Those requiring operations are given a date based on the severity of their condition. The eye operation is arranged and carried out in a hygienic clinic. Patients who require medical attention are assessed on the day and free prescriptions provided where needed.
The care package which we provide includes:
Medical care / Operation – This may be cataract removal or lens replacement. In some cases an operation may not be required individuals may be suffering from severe infections, these are also treated.
After Care – All medicines for recovery for 1 month’s duration and in cases where more than 1 month’s medication required this is fulfilled. If glasses are required these are provided.
Travel – in cases where patients can’t afford travel costs these will be provided for travel to and from the clinic back to their homes; in certain cases bus or taxi service will be sent to collect patients.
The cost of the full care varies with each patients needs; based on current costs and requirements the complete care can be provided with a minimum spend of £50 and a maximum spend of £70 per person. These small amounts make a huge life changing difference to the struggling and vulnerable people of this region.
The medical care and operations will are carried out in Toba Tek Singh by DrZahidSattar and his medical staff at the following location:
Eye clinic AkaalWala Road
Toba Tek Singh
The district and town of Toba Tek Singh is in central Punjab in Pakistan, approximated 2.5 hours from the city Faisalabad.