Western Cape Government Health in collaboration with Radiance Foundation, signed a partnership agreement to perform additional cataract surgery on patients.
The doctors that established the NGO are currently Department of Health employees that initiated the task in addition to their normal duties. Although the surgery is offered at some institutions already, the waiting lists are long at times.
The Radiance Foundation, a registered NPO, was established two years ago to assist the underprivileged in the Western Cape. More specifically, patients that are on a waiting list for cataract surgery at Eerste River Hospital eye clinic are assisted faster by arranging and sponsoring after-hour operations for them.
The Radiance Foundation has assisted sixty patients who had operations on Saturdays. Twenty more operations were conducted at Eerste River Hospital on Saturday, 02 April 2016. The doctors involved offer their services free of charge and the expenses only include paying for the nursing staff and consumables.
The Department of Health provides free access to the theatres and other facilities in order to assist the patients. Dr Beth Engelbrecht, Head of the Department of Health, said: “We are truly grateful for dedicated staff who sacrifice their time for such an innovative project. We also wish to thank the private donors that help us to undertake this project. It is an example of cooperation between government institutions and the private sector that benefits the patients”.
Cataract blindness is an unnecessary and reversible condition. A cataract operation, that costs approximately R25 000 per eye at a private hospital, could be performed for as little as R1 800 at this hospital by highly skilled ophthalmologists and nursing staff. An operation such as this is often life-changing because a patient that was almost completely blind could see again within a few hours, could be economically productive again and could make a contribution to society. Unfortunately, some patients sometimes have to wait for up to two years or longer for this procedure that could literally be performed within 15 minutes.
Approximately 2 500 cataract operations are performed at Eerste River Hospital annually; this is more than at any other government hospital in South Africa. A very efficient system is used where two patients are operated on in the theatre at the same time. Eerste River eye clinic also received a national CPSI (Centre for Public Service Innovation) award from national government in 2015 for their innovative and efficient service delivery.