(Ms. Nyanluawas Thip, Jamjang Payam, South Sudan)
" I haven't been able to see for the past three years. I attempted to sell a cow in order to travel to the big city for treatment. Everything, however, came to a halt due to a feud among my family members. Since then, I have been praying every day in the hopes of one day regaining my sight. Sara, my 16-year-old daughter, was the sole bearer of my household's burdens and responsibilities. She washes my clothes, fetches water, cooks food, collects firewood from the bush and sells it in the local market for some household needs. Because of my circumstances, she was compelled to drop out of primary school. Now that I have regained my sight, I am very excited to resume all the activities I used to do. My daughter will finally have the freedom to resume her schooling too."
The World Health Organisation (WHO), 2018, estimates that nearly 2 out of every 100 people are blind in South Sudan. The main causes of blindness are Cataracts, Trachoma, and Oncocerciasis. Blindness hinders individual health and productivity as well as places exceptional burdens on families. As Ms. Nyanluawas' experience illustrates, the majority of Cataracts patients are elderly people who require assistance with movement and other necessities.
Although blindness due to cataracts is potentially treatable and reversible with a simple lens extraction surgical procedure under local anesthesia where the opacified natural lens is replaced by an artificial lens, it has become the fourth leading cause of morbidity in Ajoung Thok refugee camp and the surrounding host community, behind malaria, acute respiratory tract infections, and skin diseases. Despite the high morbidity related to eye disease, South Sudan has only four ophthalmologists, and there is no specialized eye sickness treatment center in the whole of the Ruweng Administrative Area.
In view of the high need for services in this locality, in 2021 AHA, with funding from the Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration (BPRM) and in collaboration with the Ophthalmology Association of South Sudan (OASS) and UNHCR, planned and organized treatment campaigns for cataract and other surgical eye conditions in the region. Within these facilities, 2,689 patients with eye problems have been referred for consultation (HIS report 2018), including 150 cataract, glaucoma, and eye trauma with complications, as well as chronic sequelae of untreated trachoma like Trachealis and Entropies.
(Mr. Osman Makki, Jamjang Payam, South Sudan)
“Now that I can see, the first thing I'm going to do is go see all of my daughters and share my joys with them. We will put together a small ceremony. I can't begin to express my happiness. Now I can see clearly. However, I am a bit concerned that the loss of vision may occur again."
Mr. Osman, a 75-year-old man who had bilateral cataract surgery, couldn't contain his renewed enthusiasm for life after the procedure. The psycho-educational therapy he received from AHA further equipped him with a better understanding of cataract, the whys and how’s, and the importance of long-term tools to deal with and maintain a healthy and stable lifestyle.