03/11/2020, 15.46
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Caritas Karachi: free cataract operations for the poor

by Shafique Khokhar

Doctors from the Ahsas-e-Insaniat association treated 650 patients. Cataract surgery costs US0-400. Ashiq Masih was waiting for five months for an operation, but had no money to pay. Globally, 1.6 billion people do not have access to basic health services.

Karachi (AsiaNews) – Caritas Karachi organised a free medical eye camp for Lent, inspired by Pope Francis’s message for the 28th International Day of the Sick (11 February).

This gave 51 poor people an opportunity to undergo cataract surgery. One of them was Ashiq Masih, who is grateful to the doctors and Caritas. "God is great,” he told AsiaNews; “he heeded my prayers and those of other poor people like me.”

Doctors and eye surgeons from the Ahsas-e-Insaniat association treated a total of 650 people of all ages in two different sessions.

The first one took place from 23 to 29 February at St Michael’s Parish, in the Khuda Ki Basti (City of God) area; the second one was held on Monday-Tuesday in St Luke’s Parish, Itehad Town. Both made their place of worship available to doctors and health workers.

Dr Birbal Genani, an ophthalmic surgeon, said that doctors diagnosed a number of vision disorders, medicated infections and, in some cases, prescribed glasses.

The visits “allowed us to select 51 patients with cataract problems. On Monday, they were operated at Karachi’s Al-Khair Eye Hospital. All operations were successful and the bandages were removed yesterday. The patients will be followed in the coming weeks for check-ups and medications.”

In Pakistan, the doctor noted, the cost of a cataract operation at a private clinic can cost around US0-400, a huge amount for the poor.

In Ashiq Masih’s case, the problem “was diagnosed five months ago, but I didn't have the money to pay for the operation. Caritas truly understands the conditions of the poor. This act of generosity pushes me more and more to believe in God who really listens to the poor and needy."

Sharefan Bibi, widow, also saw a doctor at St Luke’s. “I am full of joy and happiness,” she said. “I thank, pray for and bless the whole group of Caritas and Ahsas-e-Insaniat. Their work in support of marginalised, suffering and poor people comes from the teachings they received from their families and the institutions for which they work.”

Around 1.6 billion people live in precarious conditions worldwide because of political crises and weak government that cannot provide basic medical care, said Caritas Karachi executive secretary Mansha Noor.

“This is a serious challenge for global health,” he explained. “Feeling and taking action against the suffering and pain of the poor is the aim of Caritas.”

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