Chinese restore vision in Windhoek

11 November 2019 | Health

The health ministry, with the assistance of the Chinese government represented by its vice-premier Sun Chunlan, on Friday launched its telemedicine approach and at the same time received a generous donation including two ambulances worth over N$820 000 for its eye clinic.

The telemedicine approach will enable local eye specialists to consult Chinese experts via conference call in order to make sound diagnoses of their patients, said the ministry's executive director, Ben Nangombe.

At the same occasion Chunlan, accompanied by the Chinese Ambassador to Namibia Yiming Zhang, visited cataract patients who had regained their sight in a Chinese government-sponsored charitable surgery project called 'The Journey to Brightness'.

One of the doctors, Dr Yang Zhikun, told Namibian Sun that the team had been in Namibia for about a week and had attended to 40 cases of cataracts and three retinal disorders.

Zhikun added that they has visited Namibia last year too.

The group left for Ondangwa on Saturday where they will be performing 200 cataract surgeries, Nangombe said.

According to him, the team of five doctors, three nurses and one engineer for the medical equipment will be in Namibia for a number of months.

He added that the telemedicine equipment is for now only for the eye clinic but can also be harnessed for other departments in the ministry.

“We have some of these professionals stationed in Windhoek, some will travel to Ondangwa, but they will also attend to other facilities. This is the start of an outreach programme and since they will be in the regions some patients who would have travelled to Windhoek will now be treated in their regions,” said Nangombe.

Namibian eye specialist Dr Helena Ndume said telemedicine would enable them to consult with Chinese specialists on diagnosis or treatment.

“It is very, very important in the treatment and the diagnosis of some of the eye diseases. If they have a case there that they may need our expertise or advice with, they can contact us as well,' she said.

She added that often they diagnose correctly but the equipment or treatment to treat the disease may be a challenge.

“But as we stand right now, I think we have most of the machines necessary,” she said.

Telemedicine is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.

This donation came just months after the health ministry had appealed to the public for donations to bail out its ailing eye clinic, which at the time had to send away patients because they had no medication.

The clinic was temporarily closed but eventually reopened after some donations were received.

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JEMIMA BEUKES

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