LUANDA – A Spanish surgeon wrapped up on Saturday a week of life-changing cataract surgery operations for 250 low-income people in Angola, after having already treated 1,000 patients over four years in the south-central African country.
Starting Oct. 8, Elena Barraquer performed cataract surgeries for five days at a hospital in the capital Luanda, treating a condition that is responsible for 50 percent of blindness cases globally and is the main cause of blindness in developing countries with malnutrition and high solar exposure.
“We have registered more than 500 people who could not undergo operations, so we will try to be back in less than a year,” said Tete Ferreiro, director of the Elena Barraquer Foundation.
Ferreiro explained that surgery is the only solution for cataracts, but the more efficient and safer techniques are costly and require specialized training, with Barraquer assisted by a team of optometrists, anesthetists, assistant ophthalmologists and Spanish nurses.
The director added that the required medical equipment to perform a cataract surgery costs 190 euros ($220), putting it out of reach for ordinary people in countries like Angola.
Barraquer’s work is the fruit of an agreement signed in 2014 between Angolan health authorities and the Sphera Global Health Care foundation, which funds the necessary medical and surgical equipment.
The previous surgical missions were carried out in 2014 and 2015 at two hospitals in the capital Luanda, while the third was in 2016 in the southwestern province of Namibe.
The waiting list at the general hospital of Luanda – like many others in the country – is endless, while there are others suffering from ocular disorders such as glaucoma, pterygium, multiple infections or serious cornea disorders.
Angola suffered a bitter civil war lasting from the end of Portuguese colonial rule in 1975 until 2002.