PROF. YAO KE (SECOND FROM RIGHT) AND TIBETIAN PATIENTS IN A MEDICAL CONSULTATION
Launched in 2005 and sponsored by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of China, the China Charity Awards are the top government award for charity, which aims to honor organizations, individuals, charity programs and charitable trusts that have made outstanding contributions to disaster relief, helping the elderly, the disabilities and students, orphan rescue, poverty lifting, healthcare services, as well as culture and art promotion, environmental protection, etc.
The 12th China Charity Awards announced its awardees of this year on September 5. The SAHZU Mobile Eye Hospital Project is highlighted with this top honor for public welfare and charity in China.
For almost thirty years, the SAHZU Mobile Eye Hospital has traveled to more than ten Chinese provinces and regions, covering a cumulative mileage of hundreds of thousands of kilometers. Over 100,000 medical consultations and 10,000 sight-restoration surgeries have been carried out by the project free of charge. It has been considered by many as the oldest branded charity program with the most coverage nationwide.
The idea of creating “an eye hospital on wheels” was brought up by Chair of SAHZU Eye Center Prof. YAO Ke based on "flying eye hospitals” that he learned about during his study trip in Switzerland in the late 1980s. He was then drawn to the idea of providing medical care on mobile eye hospitals for patients in underserved areas such as those living in mountain villages and sea islands in Zhejiang.
In 1996, the SAHZU Mobile Eye Hospital Project was officially launched in Zhejiang, offering a variety of care in cataract, fundus disease, corneal disease, glaucoma, and other sub-specialties. For almost 30 years, the project has provided its services in 30+ cities, counties and towns in the province, covering a total mileage of more than 600,000 kilometers. 6,000 free sight-restoration surgeries were performed on patients with financial difficulties, the youngest being a baby under one year old, and the oldest a 105-year-old veteran.
"Our mission will not end until our profession is taught to every county and every township. Until then, we will keep on running this mobile hospital as long as our patients need us." Said Prof. YAO.
Since 2011, the Mobile Eye Hospital began to travel outside of Zhejiang and extended its footprints to further inland provinces such as Tibet and inner Mongolia, in collaboration with charity funds organizations. It has made 14 trips to 11 mid-western and border provinces and regions, and carried out nearly 5,000 cases of free sight-restoration surgeries. More importantly, sixteen blindness restoration centers have been established with the project’s help.
SAHZU OPHTHALMOLOGISTS IN MALI HOSPITAL
In 2020, SAHZU Mobile Eye Hospital made its first international travel since its establishment – the western African country of Mali. The taskforce made up of five SAHZU ophthalmologists and technicians performed free cataract surgery for 40 Malian patients and conducted a lecture on phacoemulsification.
As an old Chinese saying goes, it is better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish. For this reason, the SAHZU Mobile Eye Hospital will not only deliver the hope of sight restoration to the patients, but also cultivate a medical team for the local community. A number of local ophthalmologists received training at the abovementioned 16 sight restoration centers established in the central and western regions. The first modern operating room for ophthalmic procedures was also established in Tibet.
Dr. LI He'en, a doctor working in Tibet's Chamdo People's Hospital at that time, is a perfect example. Dr. LI was the first cataract surgeon from Tibet trained at the SAHZU Eye Center and personally taught by Prof. YAO. After the training, Dr. LI became the first eye surgeon in Tibet who is eligible to perform small-incision phacoemulsification. In 2013, Dr. LI also volunteered to join the project again to serve more patients with his knowledge and skills.
After almost thirty years, vehicles of SAHZU Mobile Eye Hospital has been remodeled three times. But with the project’s efforts, 10,000 patients regained their eyesight without financial burden and 10,000 families put on happy smiles again. As long as the patients are in need, SAHZU Mobile Eye Hospital will keep on traveling.
Author: SAHZU EYE CENTER | Reviewer: CHEN LU | Editor: LI JING | Source: SAHZU OFFICIAL WECHAT | Date:2023-09-06 | Views: