November 2017

Travelling long hours and waiting months for cataract surgery is a thing of the past for residents of Lenasia South.

This follows the unveiling of a newly renovated cataract surgical clinic and fully equipped operating theatre in Lenasia South Community Health Centre by Gauteng Department of Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa.

The clinic which offers access to comprehensive eye health services for patients was renovated through an investment of R3,6 million by national clothing retailer Truworths in collaboration with international NGO Orbis Africa.

The newly renovated clinic with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and the dedicated operating theatre boasting modern surgical equipment will provide an improved service to the communities and assist in the reduction of the cataract backlog in Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital St. John’s Eye Hospital.

The facility will also offer access to professional eye screening by nursing personnel, an optometrist as well as an ophthalmologist in Lenasia South CHC and contribute to the overall increase in the Provincial cataract surgery offering’s rate.

“I am pleased with the contribution that our private partners have made and this is a perfect example of what can be achieved for the benefit of communities when government and the private sector join hands in improving the lives of the people”, said Deputy Director General, clinical services, Dr Richard Lebethe

“I commend Truworths and Orbis Africa for their positive contribution and I hope that we will continue to work together to establish more facilities of this nature across the province”.

“Cataract surgery is a common and usually safe procedure which can be performed to people of all ages wherein the lens is removed, and a new lens is implanted to restore vision. Following this procedure, vision is restored immediately,” said Dr Lebethe.

The number of people who are blind due to avoidable causes of blindness like cataract, refractive error and glaucoma is increasing every year. Cataract is one of the major preventable causes of blindness.

“The investment from Truworths has made it possible for Orbis Africa to procure essential 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,” says Lene Øverland, Orbis Africa CEO.

About 50 percent of all preventable blindness is due to cataracts. Cataract is cloudiness or opacity in the eye’s lens that leads to progressive vision loss and ultimately total blindness.

“We joined forces with Orbis Africa as we could not stand by as countless South Africans suffer from a treatable condition that robs them of their vision, causing them to lose their independence, their confidence, and their quality of life. Our hope is that we have created a unique experience for patients visiting the centre and our Marketing, Store Design and Contracts team have added their expertise and innovation to create a modern space that will significantly improve the patient journey and the working conditions for staff,” explains Truworths CEO Mr Michael Mark.

“The waiting time for cataract surgery in the four academic hospitals (Steve Biko Academic, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic, Dr. George Mukhari Academic and Steve Biko Academic) ranges from one to two years. And the main challenge in these academic hospitals is theatre time because cataract surgery competes with other complications and emergencies.

It is in this light that the Department is keen on establishing dedicated cataract surgery theatres in District hospitals to reduce waiting times for surgery within academic hospitals”, concluded Dr Lebethe.