APPEAL FOR FUNDS: CATARACT OPERATIONS
The picture shows the village chief of Bankassi leading his friend who has been operated on for trachoma during MaliMali’s recent trachoma campaign into the villages. It is a question of the blind leading the blind however, for the village chief can hardly see either because of cataracts. This is a big problem here for older people, like everywhere. A cataract operation is not as easily carried out as a trachoma operation, and it needs equipment and a proper operating unit. The sufferer will have to go to Mopti, the nearest town, at some considerable expense which puts cataract operations out of reach for most of the village population in Mali, who are resigned to slowly going blind.
We had a great Australian couple here a few months ago, he an opthalmologist. He was interested in MaliMali’s efforts with trachoma and wanted to come back here and take part in a new trachoma campaign perhaps this autumn, as well as seeing what else might be done.
This led me to talking to Dr. Moussa Kone, a friend of Keita’s and an opthalmologist.*
He suggested that perhaps we could organise a cataract campaign instead this time.
He told me there is a moveable operating unit available in Bamako, equipped for cataract operations. They have carried out such campaigns many times before, sponsored by Medecins sans Frontiers amongst others. The aim is to operate on 100 patients during 12 days. The truck may be stationary in Djenne, or it could go into the villages. The cost would be 3 700 000 FCFA, which is about 5000 pounds stirling, or about 5700 Euros. This includes the payment for two surgeons' work for 12 days, local personnel, all material, anaesthetics, medication and the diesel for the truck.
Therefore a cataract operation would cost 57 Euros. This seems a small amount for giving someone their sight back!
We are looking for funding for this. MaliMali will find some, perhaps our Australian Doctor friend will find some, and perhaps some kind person reading this blog will find us something? If you want to help, please log on to www.malimali.org and go the the donations page.
*Moussa Kone has carried out some interesting research here in Mali, with the aim of finding out why trichiasis- the advanced stage of trachoma- is less prevalent in the desert regions of Mali, although it is precisely lack of water and a dusty environment which aggravates the disease. He studied the behaviour of various regions of Mali, and noted that the people in the northern desert regions teach their children to do ablutions five times a day for their prayers. The children will therefore form a habit of washing their faces – and eyes- in water. The southern regions put less emphasis on the ablutions before prayers. Dr. Kone’s statistics concluded that there was a direct correlation between the frequency of religious ablutions and the cases of trachoma/ trichiasis in a given area.