This afternoon we were invited by Dr Jonathan Pons (who owns Mabuda Farm with his wife Helen) to observe him performing cataract surgery at the Good Shepherd Hospital in Siteki. Until recently Dr Pons has been the only ophthalmologist in Swaziland.
The eye surgery he performs is literally life transforming. For children it changes the quality of their life – allowing them to attend school and lead a normal and longer life.
In Australia we wait until our eyes get blurry and then we access cataract surgery which can cost up to $5000-7000. Here in Swaziland people wait until they are nearly blind before they choose to have surgery. The cost here in Swaziland is only $600. Many barriers exist that stop the people accessing care. Some are unaware that there is a procedure that can help them. For others the cost is too much or the distance to travel is too far. Some are fearful and some don’t know what to expect.
Dr Pons and a small team of dedicated workers don’t just operate on the ones that come in but also send out cataract case finders to educate and source the poor in communities that would benefit from the surgery. It costs around $600 but it is subsidised or free through donations and funding from CBM.
In Australia, if 2 doctors operate on 10 people in one day it is considered a busy day. Here in Siteki, Dr Pons operates two times a week and treats on average 25-30 patients a day! Dr Pons designed an amazing operating table that allows his operating room to run so efficiently.
FYI – the cataract lenses he implants were designed by the late and great Dr Fred Hollows (Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!).
What they do here is truly amazing and life changing. We saw many people being treated. It was great knowing that tomorrow they will see the world literally through new eyes.
We were very privileged to see and learn what we did today. We hope the photos we took will help the eye clinic access more funding as well as add to his articles in the Fred Hollows Journal.
The cost of consultation, surgery and post-operation care is around $600. If anyone would like to sponsor a patient who otherwise can’t afford it please let me know. It truly is a life changing opportunity.