Samsung contributes to new Western Cape eye care centre

Samsung South Africa has supported the opening of a new eye care treatment centre in the Western Cape, with the donation of screening and treatment equipment.
The new Vredendal Hospital Eye Care Centre will take eye treatment to hundreds of patients who previously had to travel over three hours to Paarl or Cape Town for treatment. Due to huge demand at the facilities in Paarl and Cape Town, patients in Vredendal found themselves waiting months or even years for treatment in the past. The new Eye Care Centre, which opened its doors earlier this year and performed its first cataract surgery in July, is already screening and treating between 150 – 200 patients a month.
According to the Western Cape Government Department of Health, the burden of disease recorded among patients from the surrounding Cederberg and Matzikama districts since the centre opened include cataracts, refractive errors, childhood blindness, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Cataracts caused by ageing or trauma account for many of the eye problems in the region.
Pitso Kekana, Head of Corporate Citizenship & Government Relations: Africa at Samsung, notes that the services delivered by the new centre will have an impact far beyond individual patients: “According to the World Health Organisation (WHO),* 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide. Around 82% of them are over the age of 50 – many of whom are still working and are breadwinners. Naturally, untreated visual impairment effects their ability to work and provide for their families. Among children, an estimated 19 million, below 15 years of age, are visually impaired, which severely hampers their ability to learn and progress at school and ultimately influences their career prospects. While communities, families and ultimately the economy suffer as a result of visual impairment, the fact is that up to 80% of visual impairment could be prevented or treated.
As a company built around the ethos of ‘making life better’, Samsung believes the relatively simple act of intervening to address treatable vision problems can make life so much better for so many people, with ripple effects throughout communities and the economy.”
Samsung has donated the necessary advanced screening and pre-treatment equipment from its own Healthcare Technology division, to enable the Vredendal Hospital Eye Care Centre to deliver top-class treatment to its patients. This hospital is just one of ten health facilities that Samsung has supported via the Departments of Health in Gauteng, North West and Mpumalanga and the Western Cape; including Mother and Child, Dental Care, Eye Care and Audio treatment facilities.
Sister Elizma Anthonissen, the ophthalmic nurse responsible for the Vredendal Hospital Eye Care Clinic, says “This is a dream come true. It is exciting to know that this community will for the first time ever have access to specialised equipment and a comprehensive ophthalmic service, including cataract surgery.”
Sister Anthonissen added that there has long been a requirement for specialised eye care services in the area, but the extent of the need is only becoming apparent now. “Our patient numbers are growing by the day – we could not have predicted how badly this service was necessary,” she says. Successful treatment is making the world of difference to the clinic’s patients, she adds. “For example, we had one tractor driver whose cataracts caused his sight to deteriorate so seriously that he drove the tractor into the famer’s vines. We have removed one cataract and we will treat his other eye in around six weeks and he should be ready to work again by the time the next harvest season begins in February, all because of Samsung’s generous support and sponsorship.”
Kekana concludes: “We see healthcare, education, vocational skills development and small business enablement as crucial pillars of sound economies and better lives for citizens. As such, all of our corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives are focused on these key areas. Across South Africa and the African continent as a whole, Samsung has stepped up its initiatives to enable better healthcare, education, skills development and business development, using our expert skills and advanced technologies to open new doors to a better life for all.”
* http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/

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