There are 5 million people with cataract blindness in mainland China with scarce access to cataract surgery. With 500,000 cases added to these figures every year, cataract blindness is a significant public health issue in the developing world.
In 1997, with the support from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Railways and the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office in Mainland China, Lifeline Express Hospital Eye Train first embarked on its mission of light into China’s mainland, as a gift to the people with cataract blindness. The custom built Eye Trains are equipped with the latest medical equipment and eye care technology. Each four compartment Eye-Train consists of a consultation clinic, a sanitization room, two operating theatres, a recovery room (with beds for patients), a multi-function conference room and living quarters for the medical team. The Lifeline Express foundation’s visiting consultant program, Professor Rajan, aims to bring eye experts from around world to improve eye services in mainland China.
Professor Madhavan Rajan who is based at the Vision and Eye Research Unit and is Lead Consultant Ophthalmologist, Cataract and Cornea Service at Addenbrooke’s Hospital recently accepted the invitation by Lifeline Express and was fortunate to visit the first ever commissioned Eye Train in China. New trains have been commissioned since then in 1999, 2002, and 2009 and there are now four Eye Trains in continuous operation, which together cure more than 13,000 cataract patients each year. From 1997 to 2012, over 130,000 cataract patients received free operations.
As part of his tour, Professor Rajan visited the Guilin cataract centre in Guilin, Guangxi province in mainland China funded by Lifeline Express, to offer his services in education and training to local ophthalmologists and eye patients in a three day continuing medical education program. The final day of the 10 days tour culminated with a remarkable meeting with the founding chairman of Lifeline Express, Mrs Nellie Fong where future plans for similar visits and contributions were discussed. Professor Rajan commented that this was a mutually beneficial program that promoted learning and sharing with particular focus to improve ophthalmic services in rural China. He offered his congratulations to Life Line Express program for the achievements so far and was thankful for the opportunity to contribute towards such a worthy goal to cure preventable blindness from cataracts in China.
CAMBRIDGE EYE TRUST
Professor Rajan is a trustee to the Cambridge Eye Trust. For further information about the charity please visit at www.cambridgeeyetrust.org.uk
Supporter of children’s charity in Burma and Cambodia.