KARACHI: In a gesture of goodwill, a team of Chinese ophthalmologists will perform 500 eye operations in Karachi in January.
The operations will be carried out as part of ‘Bright Journey Pakistan’, a delegation of the International Exchange and Cooperation China (IHECC), headed by its deputy director Hu Meiqi, announced on Wednesday during a press conference. The press conference was also addressed by office bearers of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA).
The surgeries will be performed at the Pakistan Eye Bank Society (PEBS) charity hospital in North Karachi between January 10 and January 24 and the registration of patients will begin from December 1.
According to PMA Secretary-General Dr Qaisar Sajjad, the project is part of the PMA and China Medical Association’s efforts to strengthen the Pak-China medical corridor.
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The four-member Chinese delegation also signed a memorandum of understanding with their Pakistani counterparts and pledged to bear all expenses of a free eye camp as a gift from China to deserving patients in Pakistan.
The Chinese team also visited PEBS hospital to evaluate available facilities and discussed details of protocols and SOPs for the planned free eye camp and finalized the arrangements of first ever such activity to be held by China in Pakistan.
Hu said China and Pakistan are trusted partners and good neighbours and both sides enjoy cooperation in fields such as trade and investment, culture, education and health. "Standing at this historic juncture, it's the common responsibility of the people of two countries to pass on our friendship and bring more substance to our all-weather strategic cooperation. In doing so, we would like to make the bright journey to Pakistan to carry out free cataract surgeries," she said.
"The China Lifeline-Express Project is a public charity programme that started in 1997. Upholding values such as 'benevolence, humanity, love for others and help those in distress', it has oriented its work towards cataracts, a prominent issue in terms of blindness prevention in China," Hu said. The project utilises the world's most advanced technology to bring light to the eyes of impoverished cataract patients and, in the past 20 years, the project has covered almost all of China with nearly 200,000 patients benefitting from the surgeries, according to her.
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"It is upon our dearest wish that the Lifeline-express can serve as a bridge that carries the friendship between Chinese and Pakistan,"
Dr Sajjad said he hopes similar activities will follow in other fields of medicine throughout Pakistan. "It will also be an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and skills amongst the doctors of two countries in the field of ophthalmology," he said of the project, adding that it will be extended to other cities and in other fields of medicine.
PMA Karachi President Dr Shoukat Malik said that the association’s Karachi chapter will host the activity, which will also serve as a platform for the transfer of knowledge.
The registration, screening and pre-assessment process will be carried out with the help of local doctors. Underprivileged patients of areas such as North Karachi, Surjani Town, Orangi Town, Korangi and Landhi will benefit from the activity, maintained PMA Treasurer and PEBS Hospital Medical Director Dr Qazi Wasiq.
"The free eye camp will not eradicate the eye issues but will certainly act as a noble gesture since more than two million people are suffering from eye diseases in Pakistan."