Hospital helps Filipinos with cataracts

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The Sydney Adventist Hospital is planning to extend its reach in the Philippines for the first time. A team of volunteers will donate their time and expertise to assist Filipinos suffering the affects of cataracts.

In August 2011, HealthCare Outreach is planning to extend its reach in the Philippines for the first time.  At the request of the Cagayan Valley Adventist Hospital located in northern Luzon provincial city of Santiago, a team of volunteers will donate their time and expertise to assist Filipinos suffering the affects of cataracts.

I was determined to develop a program for Filipinos and have HealthCare Outreach help my community

 
SAN Doctors donating their time to treat Filipinos with cataracts.   

“I first visited Santiago in January 2010”, said Michael Were, the SAN’s HealthCare Outreach Manager, “the medical team at Cagayan Valley Adventist Hospital really felt there was significant opportunity to assist in the field of Ophthalmology.  Universal healthcare does not exist in the Philippines like in Australia, and many of the local population are unable to afford the membership fees for the healthcare scheme, PhilHealth, or to access medical care.  We saw a hospital that was keen to help the local community and we felt it was something we wanted to partner with them to achieve.”

A cataract is a clouding that develops in the eye, varying in degree that then blocks the passage of light from the eye causing relative levels of blindness.  Cataracts are one of the leading eye diseases in a category of disease the World Health Organisation refers to as Avoidable Blindness.

Avoidable Blindness affects approximately 400 million people worldwide.  A 2004 Philippine National Study on Blindness indicated that in the Cagayan Valley region, roughly one-third the size of the state of Tasmania is home to approximately 140,000 Filipinos suffering from avoidable blindness.  The HealthCare Outreach team are hoping to address the problem.

“Our initial plan in 2011 is to begin to treat as many patients as we can afford.  Our aim is to finance the surgery of 250 patients, at an average cost of $300 per patient. We need to raise $75,000 plus equipment,” says Michael Were.  “Most of the equipment has now been sourced; however community support is necessary to raise the funds for the supplies used in each operation.”

 
 

“I have worked at Sydney Adventist Hospital for 7 years now and have heard stories from our staff travelling around the world and helping other countries.  I was determined to develop a program for Filipinos and have HealthCare Outreach help my community.  We now have a project and a program that will make a difference in the Philippines; we just need the funding and donors to make it happen,” said Lita Ford.

Our long-term goal has the team planning to develop a sustainable program that can assist those unable to afford surgery.  “Our goal is that we can finance equipment for the hospital that will mean they can have a significant impact on avoidable blindness in their community even when we are not there,” said Michael Were.

Sydney Adventist Hospital, affectionately known as the San, is located in Wahroonga on the city’s north shore and is New South Wales’ largest single campus hospital with over 500 beds.  The 1986 trip was to be the first of 103 overseas trips that the hospital’s staff and volunteers have undertaken since then. They have specialised in cardiac, reconstructive and women’s health surgery, it is now known as the Sydney Adventist Hospital HealthCare Outreach program.

You can find out more information about the HealthCare Outreach program by visiting www.sah.org.au/healthcare-outreach.  Donations can be made via the website and are tax deductible.

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