Savannakhet
The miracle of sight

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October 2005

Centre ophtalmologique de Savannakhet In October Philippe Schmidt and Frederic Pignard visited Savannakhet, where the SFE supports Opthalmic Hospital whose director is Dr. Prafix, also responsible for the SFE project. . Thursday the 13th October(incidentally the World Day of sight), they saw the new microscope in action, delivered the previous Saturday in Vientiane by Dr. Prafix. (C-cons, Philip Schmidt (Director of SFE), Alistair Maclean (Australian Ambassador to Laos), Dr ke Prafix)

During the visit a portable microscope for cataract operations in the villages was officially inaugurated in the presence of the Australia ambassador whose country funded the microscope through the SFE.

Photo 2 The Australian Ambassador also visited Sepone, a small town situated 230 km east of Savannakhet, a new extracting copper unit. Thursday the 13th October(incidentally the World Day of sight), they saw the new microscope in action, delivered the previous Saturday in Vientiane by Dr. Prafix.
(On the picture : Philippe Schmidt (Director of SFE), Alistair Maclean (Australian Ambassador to Laos), Dr Prafix)

Cataract operations in rural areas

image 3 No problems for the in Savannakhet hospital team familiar with working in villages. Dr. Soa, a young lady doctor is leading the team that will travel to Sepone. Like Dr. Prafix, she has practical experience in Laos, Nepal and elsewhere that has international recognition.
The previous day Dr. Sue left his team to install brand new equipment in the Sepone district hospital and to search in the surrounding villages patients who wishing to be treated.

image 4 préconsultation On that day, a quick pre-consultation assessed the sight of patients from the surrounding area. Cataracts, with or without inflammation are immediately diagnosed requiring an operation of one or both eyes. Many patients, mostly between the ages of 40 and 70, have very diminished sight.

image 2 opération At 10 a.m. 10 people are already on the list, and Dr. Soa begins operating with three assistants.
An experienced team operating, which literally restores sight to a person every 15-20 minutes. These men and women do not have the means to pay the cost of an operation decided that morning as they sat by the roadside! The damaged cornea is removed and replaced by a small lens. These small implants were funded this year by SFE. Two days for recovery and their lives are changed, they can see clearly...

Their smiles are the reward for the efforts of the medicals team, which regularly travel to villages in the province throughout the year to make health care accessible to those who could never get to the capital. Two teams are now trained and regularly trek in the bush for a week.
The incidence of cataracts is estimated at about 1 ‰ per year. This represents approximately 700 new cases per year for the Savannakhet province which has 720,000 inhabitants. In 2004, the team of the eye hospital was able to achieve 500 transactions.
This humble continuous long term effort is the evidence of the motivation that drives both this team and its manager.
The Ambassador of Australia was very impressed by the effectiveness of this team. Perhaps he could be our ambassador and continue to support this service. A second team, also on trek the same day only has an older microscope, definitely less effective...

Manufacturing drops

image 4
The second business activity in the Opthalmic Hospital is of eye drop manufacturing. The know-how was developed long ago by Dr. and Dr. Prafix Bounsouaï. The latter is responsible for the new unit, which is supported by the SFE Savannaket and funded by DHM. This unit will employ four people who make these drops in a completely sterile environment, which will expand production to help meet the needs of the country and even expand the number of references produced beyond the current eighteen.
Image 3

We are 100% behind this team as they have realistic ideas and use their skills to put them into practice thus ensuring the best use of available funds. They live simply, and cultivate a true vision of service to others. They are teaching us lessons. We feel privileged to witness this and to be partners, while all the credit goes to them.
If an expatriate ophthalmologist could join them, even for a few months, they would appreciate that and this work needs to be developed and sustained by training new practitioners.

(Extracts from Frederick Pignard’s newsletter)