About 30 patients have been scheduled to received free cataract surgery at the Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
The free surgery was performed under the auspices of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, AEFUTHA chapter.
The gesture is part of the association’s social responsibility outreach in commemoration of her Annual general meeting, AGM, 2023.
Speaking to newsmen Saturday at the ophthalmic theatre, AEFUTHA, venue of the surgeries, the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Professor Robinson Onoh said the association is motivated by virtue of their calling as medical doctors concerned about the welfare of people.
Onoh explained:The motivation is part of what we are actually called to do.
“This is an organisation that when we look around, we see what people suffer and identify an area we can help the masses.
“We have identified that cataract is one of the challenges that can affect the poor and indigent patients, and because of that they are needlessly blind, meaning that they have no business being blind but they are blind because they don’t have all it takes to get a good sight.
“Because we identified this gap, the body, MDCAN through her executives felt that one of the things they should do in planning their annual general meeting is that they should offer free cataract surgeries to our populace.”
Onoh, also a member of the association said the hospital management in support of the association has offered hospital equipments and conducive environment for the association to effectively carry out the service.
He noted that the hospital has been in collaboration with other professional bodies, nongovernmental organizations, and corporate bodies including the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) and the Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders), among others, to improve service delivery, and described AE-FUTHA as one of the best equiped and well resourced hospitals in Southeast Nigeria.
He commended MDCAN for the initiative.
Doctor Obiora Asiegbu, the MDCAN Chairman explained that the free eye surgery was a recommendation of the social and corporate responsibility committee, one of the committees set up in commemoration of the association’s AGM.
Asiegbu, a consultant Obstetrician and gynaecologist with the hospital said the essence of the committee was to give back to the community, adding that the free surgeries were part of giving back to the society and also a way of promoting services and supporting the hospital and its management.
The organising committee chairman and team lead of the eye surgeons, Dr. Helen Ginger-Eke, explained that cataract is an age related eye disease which is curable by surgery.
She however decried that most patients who are mainly people retired from active service do not have the money to foot the bill, adding that the situation is also aggravated by the harsh economic situation in the country, including unemployment.
Ginger-Eke said: “Ordinarily, a one eye cataract surgery will cost about a hundred and twenty thousand naira in a public hospital like ours and over two hundred thousand naira in a private hospital setting.
“This is the reason our Association deemed it right to break some of these barriers by doing this free cataract treatment and outreach today so that the indigent patients can benefit from the programme.
“In this exercise, we offer the services free, including care for the patients, and people are happy with such an opportunity to save them from blindness.”
Ginger-Eke a consultant Ophthalmologist described the programme as a major landmark of the current executives of the Association in the hospital and appreciated the management of the hospital for her support.
Some of the already beneficiaries of the gesture and other awaiting patients who spoke to newsmen, including Isu Okorokwo from Afikpo and Benjamin Eze from Nsukka, Enugu State, were full of praises for the consultants and the hospital, and prayed God to bless them.
While Okoronkwo, just out from the theatre said he has been relieved of near blindness, Eze narrated that his son living abroad insisted that he must do the eye surgery in AEFUTHA because of the confidence he has in the hospital.
All the patients who have received. surgery confirmed that their treatments were totally free of cost.