H UNDREDS of overjoyed people after years of blindness are regaining their sight after receiving free treatment from an eye camp clinic set up inside the Samdech Euv [The King's] hospital in Russey Keo district,
The camp, held from Sept 2-8, was organized by Saudi Arabia's international NGOs: Umm Al Qura Charitable Organization and the Blindness Control Program of Isra Islamic Foundation.
A woman attending the clinic said: "I have suffered from blindness for seven years."
With tears of excitement in her eyes she described the joy of being able to see again after receiving treatment from the clinic.
Many other people who have been blind for years expressed similar sentiments to the Post after regaining their sight from the treatment.
The clinic is giving eye operations, eye check-ups, spectacles, medicine, food and accommodation to Cambodians free of charge.
Thousands of people queued up inside the hospital, waiting to see the doctors. Many came from the provinces and have been waiting several days for treatment.
A Pakistani team consisting of seven optometrists, four administration managers and 10 other staff conducted the clinic.
One of the team, Dr Mujahid Inam, told the Post the optometrists performed about 500 eye examinations on the first day of the clinic and about 2,000 examinations on the second day.
He said the team would perform 4,000 eye examinations during the week, and 400 cataract operations which would enable people to regain their sight.
He added: "After that the team is going to hold the camp in Kompong Cham for another week, but one doctor and nurse will remain in Phnom Penh to see the results of the operations and help patients with further treatment."
The camp manager of the Blindness Control Program Mohammed Haroon Ibrahim said: "Our main objective is to prevent blindness. If we don't perform the cataract operations the people will become completely blind for the rest of their lives.
"We have a 99 percent success rate with the operations because of the modern techniques and qualified doctors [we employ]. But we have to choose those who are suitable for the operation.
"Cambodia is an underdeveloped country where many people are suffering from eye problems, more than 15 percent of the population are blind.
"If the Cambodian government needs us we will always come again to indiscriminately help the people here."
Ibrahim said the NGO had been traveling from country to country through Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Southeast Asia holding the camps, and this was their first visit to Cambodia.
The country is desperately short of hospitals which can give patients proper treatment for eye problems, according to Kim Sonnarit, an optician at Ang Duorng hospital.
He said: "Each week my hospital performs between 60 to 80 eye operations and conducts between 60 to 80 eye examinations."
But he said the hospital is facing acute medicine shortages and the patients had to pay for the cost of the medicine themselves.
Umm El Qura International Humanitarian Association's Secretary Assem Zoubaa told the Post he has submitted a proposal to the Foreign Affairs Ministry to open an office in Cambodia.