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The Project has significantly contributed to building the capacity of the Tien Phuoc District Hospital to deliver high quality eye care for a population of 150,000 in Tien Phuoc District of Quang Nam Province in Vietnam.

All of the planned activity targets have been achieved during this reporting period in collaboration with partners from the local public health system.

One eye doctor from Tien Phuoc District Hospital has received training in modern cataract surgery techniques. Two ophthalmic nurses have completed training to assist the doctor during surgery. The District Hospital has also been equipped with a slit lamp and two cataract surgery kits in order to deliver high quality eye surgery.

The adoption of sophisticated surgery techniques by the eye doctor as well as the provision of ophthalmic equipment has enabled improvements in the quality and quantity of cataract surgeries per-formed at the District Hospital. Investment in the hospital and ophthalmic staff has improved the reputation of the hospital, which has in turn produced an increase in the number of patients accessing eye care treatment, including those from nearby districts.

The project has subsidised cataract surgery for 100 poor people from Tien Phuoc District and nearby districts. The subsidy has covered all costs associated with restoring sight, including the intraocular lens, medicines, doctors fees and patient transport to and from the hospital.

The local people who have benefited from this sight-restoring sur-gery are now able to lead healthy, independent and dignified lives. With the restoration of sight comes renewed happiness and real hope for the future.

When a family member who has been dependent on others regains their sight, this in turn allows carers to be able to return to work or school. Therefore, the positive impact of 100 cataract surgeries has actually reached a far greater number of people.


MRS NGUYEN THI MAI, Binh Tu Commune, Quang Nam province.

Nguyen Thi Mai shows her happiness when arriving at home after successful cataract operation. Photo courtesy of Phan Quoc Bao.

For rural Vietnamese people like Mrs. Mai, there seems to be no level of difficulty that is not acceptable, including avoidable blindness. A minimum healthcare service is therefore not something that these friendly, hard-working communities demand.

Mai is 73 years old. At the age of 28, her husband died, leaving her the sole provider for their three children, 2 sons and a daughter. Managing to raise her children with the meagre daily earnings from her rice field, Mai was quite happy to see them grow up, get married and build their own cosy families. Mai is delighted to explain that she is a grandmother.

There was no option for Mai's children but to continue the rural life of their parents. An education was simply out of the question due to affordability.

Two years ago, Mai's eyes turned completely blind, after 3 years living with opaque sight. Many times her children arranged to take her to the hospital to undergo an operation, however each time the doctor decided not to take a risk with surgery due to Mai's asthma.

Although Mai received extremely good care from her children, it was not an easy life, the life of a dependent blind person. Her clothes were washed for her, her meals spoon fed and perhaps most undignifying, her daily hygiene looked after. Mai's children managed to find time both to take care of their mother whilst maintaining their own daily tasks. Mai's main caretaker is her son, Phan, who is 49 years old. Phan has his own family of five that he must also support. It is Phan who took Mrs. Mai to the hospital after they heard about free cataract operations for the poor initiated by the Fred Hollows Foundation.

When The Fred Hollows Foundation staff visited Mai's village and asked about her health, she revealed, "I could only hear my grandchildren playing around for the last 2 years. You know, I burst into tears when they came here to visit me. Right here, I burst into tears."

Mai couldn’t hide the happiness in her eyes, saying as she pointed to her right eye, "How happy I am to have my sight again in this eye. That’s why I got my second eye operated right after the first"

When being asked about her future, she drew a simple picture, "When I come back home, I will call on my neighbours. It’s been a long time I haven't seen or talked to them. When I come back home, I'll take my grandchildren to school and I’ll take a walk with them around the village".

Mai also told The Foundation that there were many people living in blindness in her village, and she was going to tell them that receiving sight was just a simple thing, with the help from The Fred Hollows Foundation.

"I am happy that my mum's eyes are now clear. My mum now can do things herself, but I still have to take a good care of her, of course I will", her son said.

Update Posted 15 November 2007.

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