Feature: More Ghanaians benefit from free cataract surgery by Chinese doctors

Lekma hospital Ghana Photo/Wikipedia

By Xinhua News Agency

It is an early September morning in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, where many people are engaged in their daily chores to earn a living. In the theater of the city’s Lekma hospital, commonly known as the China-Ghana Friendship Hospital, two Chinese ophthalmologists are working on patients.

In a single morning, the pair has already performed free cataract surgeries on three patients to restore their vision, which had been impaired by the eye disease. Lei Peng, the eye specialist from the Guangdong Second Provincial General Hospital, has teamed up with her colleague Tang Xiaodi, a member of the 12th Chinese medical team in Ghana, to perform free phacoemulsification cataract surgeries for locals since Sept. 11.

The two-week outreach program is a part of a free cataract surgery project named “Seeing The Beautiful World,” initiated by the previous Chinese medical team in November of last year, with support from various Chinese businesses. The pair told Xinhua that by Saturday, they had completed 71 surgeries, bringing the figure closer to the project’s target of 100 cases.

Lei was a member of the Chinese medical team that worked in Ghana in 2016, and out of his love for the West African country, he decided to return to support the current team in performing more free cataract surgeries. “Cataract surgery gives people light. If they are completely blind, they become a burden to their family. But if they can now see, they can work and bring income to the family. That makes a huge difference,” he said.

Since 2009, China has dispatched 12 medical teams to Ghana, comprising over 100 medical professionals who have provided vital assistance to the West African country.

Georgina Addy, 79, was one of the Ghanaian beneficiaries of the free surgery to reverse the cataract she had developed five years ago.

Addy told Xinhua after undergoing her procedure that she had sought help at other hospitals for her eye problem, but the high cost had prevented her from having the surgery. “My eye has been painful, and a neighbor recommended the Lekma hospital to me. I visited here in August and reported with my laboratory reports yesterday. Today, they brought us to the theater, and they performed the surgery for me, and I am okay now,” she said.

The pensioner expressed her gratitude to the Chinese doctors who attended to her medical needs promptly. “I am relieved from my financial burden. They are helping Ghanaians, so we thank them sincerely.”

Cataract is a reversible cause of visual impairment and a common disease among Ghanaians. However, the high cost of the surgery prevents many low-income locals from accessing the treatment to restore their vision. The free surgeries performed by the Chinese medical team, therefore, provide great relief to the beneficiaries and their families.

“Doctor Lei worked with us in 2016 and then returned to China but decided to come back to help us perform more surgeries. The results are good, and our clients are satisfied with the outcome,” said Senam Aidam, head of the ophthalmology unit at LEKMA Hospital. “They are all very happy,” Aidam added.

A Chinese doctor performs a surgery on a local cataract patient at the Lekma hospital in Accra, capital of Ghana, Sept. 20, 2023.

On Sept. 11, the Chinese medical team in Ghana started a program to provide free surgeries for local cataract patients. By Saturday, they have completed 71 surgeries. (Photo by Seth/Xinhua)