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Clothing retailer invests millions to fight blindness in South Africa

By Helen White

A new public-private partnership will impact the lives of thousands of South Africans waiting for cataract surgery.

South African clothing retailer, Truworths, is investing R3.6million towards improving eye healthcare services in Gauteng province. This investment is in partnership with international NGO, Orbis Africa, and the Gauteng Department of Health.

The province of Gauteng contains a quarter of the country’s total population and 75% depend on a public healthcare system with a huge burden of high-mortality rate-diseases. The public-private partnership will support the Department of Health’s efforts to address the significant backlog of cataract surgeries in the province.

The backlog is estimated to be in the region of 2 500 surgeries, with patients living in Soweto waiting up to 12 months to undergo surgery in state-owned facilities. In response, the Department of Health has identified the need to establish dedicated cataract surgical centers that will take the pressure off Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital. A similar centre is already established by the Department in Bheki Mlangeni Hospital.

The investment from Truworths will strengthen cataract surgical services at Lenasia South Community Health Centre, a facility that serves communities living in Soweto and Orange Farm. The funding is being used to renovate the existing eye clinic, purchase diagnostic and surgical equipment, procure medical supplies and train the full eye healthcare team. A broader impact will be increasing public awareness on the importance of eye health, and investing in research to improve the uptake of services, patient care and surgical outcomes.

The Truworths-funded cataract surgical centre at Lenasia CHC will not only reduce the backlog in Adult Cataract Surgery but will enable the team at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital to focus on essential teaching as well as Paediatric Eye Health Services.

The newly renovated cataract surgical centre at Lenasia South Community Health Centre will be unveiled at an opening ceremony hosted by the Gauteng MEC of Health on Friday 10 November 2017.

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