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Zimbabwe National Army gifts eyesight to grannies

by Staff reporter
17 Nov 2023 at 05:04hrs | Views
GOGO Ellen Nyoni (78) from Chakamanga Village in Shurugwi in the Midlands Province was all smiles and could not contain her excitement after her sight was restored. Sitting with fellow cataract patients at Shurugwi District Hospital on Sunday afternoon, Gogo Nyoni had gone for years with an eyesight problem, which had started taking its toll on her ability to engage in farming, her source of livelihood.

Life was becoming unbearable for the grandmother of three as she was now forced to rely on other people to move from one point to another.

"Imagine growing up with your eyesight and then as age catches up with you, you start experiencing blurred eyesight. Before I knew it, I was no longer able to see and it was horrible," said Gogo Nyoni."The pain of asking someone to accompany you to the toilet was too much and I will never forget that."

Gogo is one of the beneficiaries of the programme by the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) to restore sight targeting the elderly in Shurugwi District.

Her sight was restored following a medical procedure to remove cataracts from her eyes. The ZNA team, which was at Shurugwi District Hospital at the weekend, is now at Tongogara Polyclinic. Gogo Nyoni had lost hope as she had no money to pay eye specialists for the medical procedure.

"This programme is commendable and my eyesight has been restored. It was becoming difficult to go to the field to do farming due to eye problems. After this surgery I can do my chores with any problem," she said.

A cataract is a condition in which the lens of an eye becomes cloudy and affects vision. Most commonly, cataracts occur in older people, and they usually develop gradually.

Another beneficiary Mr Ashley Bhebhe said he had visited several hospitals to get treated but he could not afford the treatment given that eye surgeries are beyond the reach of many. Mr Bhebhe struggled with cataracts in both eyes. "It started five years ago with the right eye. With time, the condition worsened until I got blind. It was now impossible for me to do my daily chores such as cutting firewood and farming. I am grateful to the Government for this initiative," he said.

In a groundbreaking display of compassion and commitment to the well-being of citizens, the ZNA has embarked on a noble mission, offering free eye cataract surgeries in the Midlands Province.

The initiative is a joint effort between the Ministry of Health and Child and ZNA. Renowned for its unwavering commitment to national security, ZNA has expanded its horizons to address the critical healthcare needs of people with cataracts in the Midlands. ZNA medical team is set to perform 100 free cataract surgeries, covering Shurugwi, Zvishavane, and Chirumhanzu districts.

ZNA is providing all the necessary consumables, intraocular lenses, and post-operative drugs to ensure a comprehensive and holistic approach to eye health. The initiative seeks to alleviate the burden on those suffering from cataracts while reaffirming the ZNA's commitment to the well-being of the communities it serves. At least 100 patients who have cataracts are expected to benefit from the ongoing eye surgery programme.

Chief of Staff (Quartermaster Staff) Major General Hlanganani Dube said by extending the free eye surgeries, the ZNA is fulfilling its secondary role to assist the communities. "The secondary role of the military is assistance to civil power and military assistance to communities. An example of military assistance to civil power is what we did during the Cyclone Idai disaster, working with line ministries such as health during the Covid-19," he said.

Major Gen Dube said they use such opportunities to sharpen their skills in carrying out the provision of health services to the communities.

"The military assistance to civil communities is exactly what we are doing here at the hospital whereby we are assisting the community and operating them by taking out the cataract from their eyes. It is typically the second role of the national army assisting the community," he said.

ZNA ophthalmologist, Lieutenant Colonel Mathius Mukona said the exercise has received a huge response. "We are here to operate and restore sight to the community, and these are high-impact projects to win the hearts and minds of the people as the defence forces. The response in the Midlands is overwhelming and exciting," he said.

"This is another service that we do as ZNA and our budget has targeted to operate 100 cataracts."

Source - The Chronicle