By Robin Gomes
The development and social action arm of the Catholic Church in Pakistan’s financial capital of Karachi recently organized free medical eye camps during Lent, inspired by Pope Francis’s message for the Church’s World Day of the Sick, 11 February.
Caritas Karachi helped 51 poor people undergo cataract surgery free of charge. Doctors and eye surgeons from the Ahsas-e-Insaniat, a non-profit charity, treated a total of 650 people of all ages in two different sessions.
The first eye camp was held from 23 to 29 February at St Michael’s Parish, in the Khuda Ki Basti (City of God) area. The second was held on March 16-17 in St Luke’s Parish, Itehad Town. Both made their churches available to doctors and health workers.
Eye surgeon, Dr Birbal Genani, said that doctors at the camps diagnosed a number of vision disorders, medicated infections and, in some cases, prescribed glasses.
They selected 51 patients with cataract problems who had surgeries on Monday at Karachi’s Al-Khair Eye Hospital. “All operations were successful and the bandages were removed on Wednesday. The patients will be followed up in the coming weeks for check-ups and medications,” the surgeon told AsiaNews.
He pointed out that the cost of a cataract operation at a private clinic in Pakistan can cost between $300 to $400, a huge amount for the poor.
One of the patients, Ashiq Masih, had his cataract diagnosed five months ago but could not afford the surgery until Caritas stepped in. “Caritas truly understands the conditions of the poor. This act of generosity pushes me more and more to believe in God who really listens to the poor and needy," he told AsiaNews.
Another patient, Sharefan Bibi, a widow, could also visit the doctors at St Luke’s Parish. She is grateful to Caritas and Ahsas-e-Insaniat. “Their work in support of the marginalised, suffering and poor people is inspired by the teachings they received from their families and the institutions they work for ,” she said.
According to Mansha Noor, the executive secretary of Caritas Karachi, there are around 1.6 billion people worldwide living in precarious conditions because of political instability and weak governments that are unable to provide basic healthcare services. “This is a serious challenge for global health,” he explained. “Feeling and reacting to the suffering and pain of the poor is the aim of Caritas,” he added.
According to a report by the United Nations World Health Organization last year, at least 2.2 billion people around the world have a vision impairment. Of these, at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed. (Source: AsiaNews)