RAWALPINDI: Al-Shifa Eye Trust Hospital treated as many as 550,000 patients in different camps across the country in 2023, and thousands of the poor had their vision restored.

The primary sponsors of these camps included Qatar Charity, Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL), Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL), Al-Shifa Foundation of North America (AFNA), and the Pakistan Army, while the Rupani Foundation has also funded two eye camps.

In a media briefing, the trust’s spokesman remarked that the trust was reaching out to the far-flung regions of Gawadar and Pasni as well as the impoverished districts of Gilgit-Baltistan.

He said the hospital under Al-Shifa trust conducted 400 general eye screening camps, 40 school screening camps, and 55 surgical eye camps all over the country in 2023.

A sizable number of patients lacked the means to reach a hospital for treatment, he said.

The spokesman further noted that the army’s cooperation with the trust was highly commendable in numerous regions of South and North Waziristan, as they established food and lodging facilities and provided other essentials, which enabled the locals to receive general eye care and surgical facilities.

He stressed that the trust is dedicated to battling blindness, even though establishing surgical eye camps in certain rural areas is a tough job due to a range of issues.

Al-Shifa President Major General (Retd) Rehmat Khan informed that more than 125,000 schoolchildren had their eyes screened for various eye conditions, and 6,000 of them received free glasses. Besides, a 30 percent increase in the number of eye camps has been a great success, he added.

Moreover, Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital in Rawalpindi, Kohat, Sukkar, and Muzaffarabad received complex cases from far-off areas, he said, adding that the trust began an outreach project in 1992 and that its free eye camps are established all over Pakistan.

Al-Shifa Centre for Community Ophthalmology (ACCO) is increasing the number of free eye camps in far-flung areas on an annual basis where the majority of the patients lack the resources to access quality healthcare, Mr Khan said.

He further underlined that eye-related problems are increasing at an alarming pace; therefore, all public and private concerns should boost their efforts to combat this menace.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2024

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