The friendship of China and the Pacific Island Countries is deep and long-standing.

Medical and health care is a major field where China helps its friends.

The Chinese Brightness Trip programme has been carried out with Guangdong Provincial government support to help the Pacific countries in the treatment of eye diseases.

In Oct 2019, a medical team from Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, the top ophthalmic centre in China, is sent by Guangdong Health Committee to provide free surgery for patients with cataract in Vanuatu and Samoa. The medical team, led by Prof. Weirong Chen, has carried out medical aid 12 times since 2013.

They have been to Pacific island countries including Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, Niue and the Cook Islands, Maldives in the Indian Ocean and Senegal in Africa as well. This is their 5th time to Vanuatu. The team is now performing free cataract operations for the cataract patients in Vanuatu from October 13 to October 16.

Many patients have been operated on successfully and all of the patients feel well.

According to the doctors’ experience over the years, the prevalence of cataract in the Pacific island countries is high because of the UV radiation beside the sea and the high prevalence of diabetics.

The Chinese doctors would like to call on the attention of the people in Vanuatu: Prompt treatment, protection from UV, and control of blood glucose are very important to maintain good vision for long.

Ms Monique Tari said that the eye team led by Professor Chen Wen-Rong is part of a Memorandum of Agreement signed with the Ministry of Health back in 2013, during their first visit. She said that the team is addressing cataracts issues, which is a leading cause of blindness nowadays in Vanuatu.

Ms Tari said that the team arrived in Port Vila on Saturday last week and has spent 2 days carrying out operations within the Vila Central Hospital’s eye clinic since Monday.

“There are 3 doctors, 3 nurses and 1 technician who were part of the Chinese Brightness team programme.

"So far, a total of 142 patients attended the 2-day program, with 20 patients undergoing Cataract surgeries. The outcome of the patients is really good with patients showing improvements after their visits. Dr Chen Wei-Rong is a leading Ophthalmologist in China that concentrates and majors in cataract surgeries alone.

“Due to lack of consultation and communication, less than 200 people attended the 2-day operation program. Over the past years, the Ministry has been liaising with us in advance however we were only informed of this year’s visit only last week.

"If we were consulted during the past 2 months, we would have booked patients in advance to participate in such beneficial programs,” said Ms Tari.

She said of the 20 patients undergoing surgeries, there was one lady who was blind for 5 years who was really happy and relieved of seeing again after undergoing surgery. The Chinese Brightness trip team will return again to Vanuatu.

“With the Ministry of Health having an Eye Clinic coordinator in place, it is best to have all preparations in advance to cater for the team’s arrival in the upcoming years. This will allow an increase of patients compared to the 20 patients undergoing surgery this year. Dr Chen is capable of carrying out over 1000 patients in just 3 days, and we hope we should not miss such opportunities in the near future. Dr Chen was so down hearted when noticing the number of patients attending this year as compared to other pacific countries, more than 100 patients received such treatments and surgeries,” said Ms Tari.

Ms Tari said that such programs are very important for the public and eye patients to attend. She said the clinic has a Facebook page ‘Vila Eye Clinic’ where everyone can follow up on awareness and campaigns of the Chinese Brightness Trip team’s next visit. She said that the public can also come by the office and seek inquiry on the team’s visit. She emphasized that it is very important for the public to not miss out on such opportunities.

The team has left the country yesterday for Samoa as part of their Pacific Brightness Trip program.

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