Eye Care activities rolled out in April, 2013 with an aim of assisting Malawians access eye care programmes through advocacy, eye screening, surgery and treatment in conjunction with other stakeholders like Zomba and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Dr. Khumbo Kalua and other health service providers. It is a fact that healthy eyes contribute a lot to positive development of both individuals and communities. So far, more than 200 people in Taulo area have their eyes screened, about 20 received treatment and five had gone through successful surgery.
This report highlights the first surgery that some of the people of Taulo, where FVM carries out is interventions, underwent.
Five people (four women and one man) had gone through successful eye surgery at Zomba Central Hospital – LIONS department. The exercise took place from Monday, 19 August to Friday 23 August 2013. On the first day (Monday, 19 August) all the five clients had their eyes re-screened in pre-surgery test to explicitly prepare them for the required operation. All the patients were successfully operated on on Tuesday, 20th August. They were admitted at the hospital until Friday 23 August to make sure they were stable and fine.
Zomba Lions Sight First Eye Hospital provided very nice accommodation and food to the six patients plus one guardian for all the days theyin the hospital without cost. Due to enormous work that they had on the day, the health workers had do work for extra two hours to make sure all the patients were assisted on the same day, FVM paid them small token for lunch and refreshments. The only authorised surgeon, Frank Mbewe was going to be out of the station for a month from 21 August, therefore, all the surgery work was to be done before that day. This prompted to have him and his co-workers work for extra time.
Fear and traditional belief
It was so surprising to realise that people of Taulo believed that the surgery would most likely going to be successful. “Ife timakhulupirira kuti akatiphulitsa maso athu ku chipatala ndiye tinasiyira dala (we believed that our eyes will be removed at the hospital so we decided to shun away),” said one of the patients who shunned away. This explains as to why only five people turned up instead of eleven.
After the very successful surgery and treatment, those who did not turn up have been asking for mercy to be taken to the hospital for surgery and treatment. “Koma chonde tindandizeni. Anthufe tinapusisidwa kuyambira kale (Pease assist us. We have been cheated for long.),” lamented one of the absconders.
It was realised that change takes time to take its course. It needs patience to have conservative communities to adapt to and adopt new things. Most Africans believe in traditional medicine because they believe that most sicknesses are either misfortunes for being disobedient to their ancestors’ spirits or they are bewitched. However, the works that FVM is doing in Malawi (in Taulo & Nandolo in particular) open their understanding from time to time including the eye care programme.
1. As you can note from the figure below, most people with eye problems are on average 77 years old. So someone may draw two conclusions:
· Either, many people below 77 years old do not go for eye screening, or
· The eye problems that need surgery are associated with age.
2. Advocacy should continue so that people should benefit from and adopt the early and timely healthy assistance.
Hopefully, continued eye care services will help come up with tangible conclusions. Children and young adults (ages 0-35 years) should be targeted so that their eyes are treated in time.
The list below shows the people and their ages that went for surgery:
1. Lucio Liwonde - 1931 - Bandawe Village, T/A Mwambo
Guardian: Emmanuel Chizimba
2. Maria Jailosi - 1924 - Mailosi Village, T/A Chikowi
3. Cecilia Magaleta - 1935 - Kalumeya village, T/A Chikowi
4. Eliza Raphael - 1956 - Mukwaru Village, T/A Chikowi
5. Elizabeth William - 1934 - M’meta 1 Village, T/A Chikowi
It was so exciting to witness the successful first eye surgery of the people of Taulo. Thanks should go to Mr. Munthali and all staff of Zomba Lions Hospital for their love, support and corporation in working with FVM. There is need to have continued eye care activities in the area. Children and the youth should be targeted. Eye care health information should be spread through meetings, dramas, dances and possibly video clips/DVD shows on big screens.