Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, the parent company of China’s biggest private commercial airline, said it is on course to fulfill its plan to help 1,000 cataract patients with eye surgery in Cambodia.
The company has targeted helping cataract sufferers and last year launched the Cambodian program, aiming to treat the 1,000 patients between 2016 and 2018.
The company said that since September its staff members have visited Cambodia three times, to date offering free treatment to 371 cataract patients.
Hao Yansheng, a renowned ophthalmologist at Peking University Third Hospital, was invited to operate in Cambodia. A group of doctors, nurses and staff were responsible for the work of early screening and postoperative reviews.
HNA, along with some international public welfare organizations, plans to continue to expand the program to Africa, to help more cataract patients there in the coming years. The group will also support local hospitals with their equipment and with sustainable improvements to ophthalmology there.
So far, the program has helped more than 6,500 impoverished cataract patients worldwide with eye surgery, and the company has invested more than 10 billion yuan ($1.45 billion) in various corporate social responsibility programs.
HNA launched the program in 2004, to help cataract patients who live in inland China, including Qinghai and Sichuan provinces and the Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang autonomous regions.
In 2010, the group expanded the program to African countries, such as Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique.
In Zimbabwe, cataracts are a widespread affliction. The World Health Organization has estimated that there are 125,000 people with blindness in Zimbabwe, of whom 62,000 became blind as a result of cataracts.
Zimbabwe has been estimated to have an annual cataract surgery backlog of 60,000 people, and there are only about 20 ophthalmologists in the country.
Within a week of arriving in 2011, the Chinese team completed eye surgery on 514 cataract patients, who later recovered their sight.
Zimbabwe’s president said he was grateful for China’s help and said China not only relieved hundreds of people from blindness, but also helped bring advanced technologies and equipment to Zimbabwe.
This, he said, was critical to improving local standards for eye surgery and would help the country with long-term prevention of the disease.