To kickstart 2020, The Fred Hollows Foundation will open a new operating theatre at Baitush Sharaf Eye Hospital in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh later this month.

The new operating theatre will mean that local doctors can increase the number of cataract surgeries by at least 100 every week, restoring sight to both Rohingya refugees and local Bangladeshi residents.

Last year, The Foundation told our supporters about the crisis in Cox’s Bazar Bangladesh, where Rohingya refugees had fled from Myanmar.

More than a million people fled violence and persecution into the largest and fastest growing refugee camp in the world, near Cox’s Bazar. Thousands of these refugees were also blind.

The Foundation appealed for supporters to back our plans for a fully-functioning surgical clinic in the camp - the Fred’s Vision Eye Clinic. We had an incredible response from our supporters, with over 700 people donating more than HKD530,000 to help build the operating theatre.

Since then we have had to alter our plans, as permanent structures are not allowed to be built inside the refugee camp and power supply is not available. Despite these issues, The Fred Hollows Foundation has come up with other ways to help both the Rohingya refugees as well as the host community in Bangladesh, which also has a desperate need for more cataract surgery.

This month the Fred Hollows Eye Operation Theatre will open at our partner hospital Baitush Sharaf Eye Hospital. The new theatre will mean local doctors can increase the number of cataract surgeries, restoring sight to more people.

“We are very much pleased to have this operation theatre thanks to the generous people and The Fred Hollows Foundation. Thank you from the host people as well as the Rohingya people,” said Baitush Sharaf Hospital Chairman M.M. Sirajul Islam.

“When people give us funds we can help more disadvantaged people. “We are providing services to the host community and the Rohingya community. We’re also able to help more women by encouraging more women to access the services.”

The new theatre includes:

  • A waiting area Visual acuity testing room
  • An area for nursing mothers to feed babies
  • The theatre for cataract surgery

The Foundation renovated the space and provided all of the equipment to get the theatre up and running. The Foundation has also opened two new eye screening clinics inside the sprawling camps. This means there are now four locations where eye screening for Rohingya refugees is held.

“The refugees’ situation is harrowing, but imagine fleeing in fear and also being blind. We knew we needed to help,” said The Foundation’s CEO Ian Wishart. “We are grateful to our donors for their amazing support.”