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The Fred Hollows Foundation launches new project in Guangxi Helping over 130,000 people The Fred Hollows Foundation launches new project in Guangxi Helping over 130,000 people

The Fred Hollows Foundation launches new project in Guangxi Helping over 130,000 people

Guangxi has the highest ethnic minority population in China. Awareness of eye disease is limited and patients often do not have the opportunity for treatments. The Fred Hollows Foundation is launching a four-year comprehensive eye care program in three counties in Guangxi Province, hoping to improve eye care services in the area.

The program expects to train at least one cataract surgeon in each of the counties, provide refractive error correction treatment, screen over 120,000 students and people, and to provide cataract surgeries. The program which amounts to RMB$4 Million will benefit over 130,000 people.

There are 12 ethnic minority groups in Guangxi, accounting for one-fifth of China’s ethnic minority. Most of them live in remote areas. The lack of eye care services in the province leads to low awareness of eye care and patients find it difficult to access medical help.

The Fred Hollows Foundation will launch a four-year comprehensive eye care program in 2019 to 2022 in the three counties of Hepu, Guanyang and Xingye. Through training professional eye care medical staff, providing screening and organising community and school-based eye checks, the program aims to raise the level of eye care and provide a strong foundation for its further improvement.

Amanda Huang, China Country Manager of The Foundation, talks about the situation in Guangxi. She says, “According to The Second National Sample Survey of People with Disabilities in 2006, there are 150,000 blind people in Guangxi and cataract is the major reason for avoidable blindness, accounting for 60% of blindness in the province.

“People have limited knowledge of blindness and most doctors who can perform a cataract surgery concentrate in cities. There is a big gap between needs and the number of doctors who can perform cataract surgery in counties, with less than 36% of all the eye doctors in Guangxi’s county-level hospitals able to independently perform the surgery. It is a race with time to improve eye care in remote areas of Guangxi.”

Huang says there are even no eye charts for basic eye checks in some counties that The Foundation has visited. “Four out of five people of blindness can be avoided. The Fred Hollows Foundation is looking forward to working with the county governments to bring quality eye care services to the people.”

The program aims to train more than 140 eye care staff at the provincial, county, township and village hospitals and clinics.  This includes at least one surgeon in each county who can independently perform cataract surgery. The program will also launch initiatives at schools including screening 72,000 students, providing spectacles to 4,500 students and training 450 primary teachers on basic eye care. More than 54,000 people are expected to be screened and 4,500 cataract surgeries will also be provided.