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Providing free cataract surgery to PGH patients

By Franz Marie Cruz, MD
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:56:00 03/28/2008

Filed Under: Health

MANILA, Philippines?Cataract is the leading cause of reversible blindness worldwide. Cataract surgery is the most frequent procedure performed in the Sentro Oftalmologico Jose Rizal (SOJR) with about 1,500 cases done every year.

The SOJR houses the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (DOVS) of the Philippine General Hospital and the University of the Philippines-College of Medicine. It was built from 2003 to 2006 with funding from the Spanish government and Queen Sofia.

One of its missions is to serve the Filipino people with quality and affordable eye care. Every year, it sees 50,000-60,000 patients with eye problems in its various subspecialty and general clinics.

Financial support

Even though PGH is the biggest government hospital, cataract surgery ordinarily still cannot be done without some monetary expense from the patient or his/her family. However, with financial support and assistance from various charitable institutions in both private and government sectors, these services can be made free for the patients of the SOJR.

One of the most generous patrons of the DOVS providing free cataract surgery is the Chi Liam Tong Foundation, a nongovernment organization (NGO) which gets its funding from the Chinese community in the country.

Cataract missions

Over the past two years, the department with the full and active support of the Chi Liam Tong Foundation has held in-house cataract missions at the SOJR. To date, these missions are held 4 to 5 times a year and have serviced more than 350 PGH patients with free cataract surgery. This year, the foundation headed by Robert Go aims to increase the number of in-house cataract missions to one every month in order to serve more patients.

The Chi Liam Tong Foundation was founded in the early 1980s by Luisa Chua but it was only in 1991 when it was established in PGH through the Medical Social Service. Its mission is to provide ?compassionate love coming from the heart to our countrymen? through its various charitable activities.

Aside from providing free cataract surgeries in and outside the SOJR, the two other major projects of the foundation are providing financial assistance and free medicines to PGH Burn patients as well as donating sacks of rice to different missionary charities all over the Philippines.

The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences of the Philippine General Hospital with the full support of the officials of the UP system has been and remains at the forefront of delivering quality eye care to the Filipino people, especially the underserved. It rededicates itself to the mission of UP as it celebrates its centennial year of service to the Filipino people.

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