A total of 330 patients had their sight restored after they underwent free cataract surgery at the Oshikuku State Hospital, conducted by a team of local eye specialists led by Dr Sven Obholzer.
Dr Sven Obholzer, a state ophthalmologist specialist based at Windhoek Central Hospital, and has been spearheading this year’s cataract surgical campaign at Oshikuku.
The rest of the surgical team was made of by Dr John Onephillips (from Oshakati State Hospital), Dr Gustav Shembo (Oshakati State Hospital) and Dr Katarina Daniel (Windhoek Central Hospital).
These doctors are general practitioners, who work in ophthalmology departments and perform cataract surgery at their respective hospitals as well during the rest of the year.
According to Dr Obholzer the team also consisted of ophthalmic clinical officers from other regions as far afield as Karas, as well as nursing staff in both the wards and operating theatre. “The team members ensure that our patients are screened and prepared for their operations and also take care of them post-operatively.
Mr Joel Flashman Anyolo from the Blindness Prevention Program coordinates this team for each eye-camp,” he said.
He added that over the past three and a half years, they have had at least one eye-camp per year, with a team made up of exclusively Namibian-based surgeons, showing the progress being made in capacity and skills development, and making the country progressively more self-sufficient in tackling cataract blindness.
At the other eye-camps, visiting surgeon teams from Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom and the USA, have helped with surgical expertise and material donations.
“We do five eye-camps per year and try to serve all regions of the country. This year we have been in Katima Mulilo, Grootfontein and Oshikuku. The next one is starting on Monday at Engela Hospital, with three visiting surgeons from the USA,” he said.
The final stop will be at Oshakati Intermediate Hospital in September, which will last for five days, following similar campaigns at Oshikuku in the Omusati Region, Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi Region, Grootfontein in the Otjozondjupa Region and Engela in the Ohangwena Region.
Cataract surgeries at Oshikuku and Katima Mulilo were conducted by local doctors, but at Engela the campaign will be supported by doctors from Austria and the USA.
The programme concentrates its efforts in the northern regions, because people in those densely populated regions reportedly have a high prevalence of cataract blindness, mainly due to the ageing population, excessive exposure to the sun and eye injuries.
Cataracts form when the lens of the eye becomes clouded, leading to gradual loss of its transparency and decreased vision in one or both eyes.
Dr Obholzer said even though cataract blindness makes up a large and important part of visual impairment, especially in our elderly population, many other aspects of ophthalmology require attention.
“I’m working hard to obtain equipment and instrumentation to enable the Windhoek Central Hospital to better treat diabetic eye disease, retinal detachments, and offer comprehensive care for childhood eye problems, such as squints and congenital cataracts,” he said.