The raw figures are alarming: Worldwide there are 150 million people suffering from disorders of the eye and visually impaired persons, 45 million people are blind, 90% of them in poor countries. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 80% of these cases blindness can be prevented or remedied by prophylactic measures or medical interventions. This assumes the availability of adequate medical equipment, suitable infrastructure and well-trained doctors.
Used instruments help to save eyesight
The 500,000 inhabitant city of Cusco, Peru, lacked everything, as witnessed by our former sales representatives Bodo Hufeland and Dieter Lebherz in 2004. There were 13 ophthalmologists to look after half a million inhabitants. Medical staff lacked training and worked in under appalling physical conditions. Moved by the circumstances, an informal routine was developed by local doctors to acquire used instruments.
Cusco is awarded official status
Bodo Hufeland and Dieter Lebherz contributed significantly to establishing the Cusco project group. Under the auspices of the Committee for the Prevention of Blindness, this project group has supported the non-profit organisation CEPRECE in Cusco since 2004. The group includes Uschi and Bodo Hufeland, Dieter Lebherz, Dr. Pedro Valcarcel and Jörg Wild. The cooperation partners of the project group at the current time includes the Christian Blind Mission, the University Eye Clinic Homburg / Saar,the Platform as well as Geuder AG, which had supported this project from the beginning with donations and by releasing its employees to help.
Direct local support
To date instruments worth approximately 500,000 Euro have been donated to the organisation. Besides a large portion of these instruments, Geuder have also donated an all-terrain vehicle for mobile use. Qualified and comprehensive instruction, training and assistance to Peruvian ophthalmologists and the surgical staff has been provided by German ophthalmologists.
Building an eye clinic
The intensive work of the Cusco project group led to the opening of the new CEPRECE-CUSCO eye clinic in January of 2010. This modern eye clinic was funded by the Christian Blind Mission (CBM) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ).
The single-storey hospital building includes three examination areas with two operating theatres, an auditorium and a workshop for fitting spectacles. The new eye clinic is operated on a non-profit social basis and provides the approximately 1.2 million people in Cusco and the surrounding area an affordable or, for the poorest, free ophthalmologic care. Through comprehensive training provided by Dr. Berthold Seitz and Dres. Anja and Arne Viestenz in Homburg/Saar and locally in Cusco new surgical techniques for previously untreatable eye diseases such as retinal holes and detachments, glaucoma and corneal diseases are now available.