The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Chinese Doctors to Perform Free Eye Operations

Fourteen eye surgeons from China are expected in the country tomorrow to carry out free cataract extraction operations on 500 poor patients.

The operations will be done at Chitungwiza Central Hospital under the China-Zimbabwe Friendship Brightness Trip.

This comes ahead of the two-day visit by Chinese Vice Prime Minister Wang Qishan.

Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Xin Shunkang, said his country was looking at the possibility of building a specialist eye hospital in the country.

"I am very much honoured to announce that another China-Zimbabwe Friendship Brightness Trip will be launched in Zimbabwe from March 18 to March 25.

"It is the second time Chinese doctors from Beijing Tongren Hospital come to Zimbabwe. They will conduct 500 cataract extraction surgeries for Zimbabwean patients for free at Chitungwiza Central Hospital," he said.

Ambassador Xin said he would push for more visits by the Chinese doctors to assist at least 60 000 Zimbabweans suffering from reversible blindness.

"I am sure this will not be the last one, I will push for a third, fourth and fifth visit. We also want to set up a cataract hospital in Zimbabwe," Ambassador Xin said.

He said Vice Prime Minister Wang would visit Chitungwiza Central Hospital to witness the doctors do the operations. The Chinese Vice Prime Minister's visit is at the invitation of Vice President Joice Mujuru.

During the visit an agreement will be signed for Beijing to provide medical equipment to Zimbabwe.

"The Brightness Trip comes to Zimbabwe for the second time in four months. It is not only because our two countries enjoy excellent political and economic relations, but also because our two peoples share a genuine heart-to-heart friendship," he said.

Director of Policy Research, Public Relations and International Affairs in the Ministry of Defence, Mr Patrick Macha-ya, said the doctors were coming at the invitation of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

"The involvement of the ZDF in this project may come as a surprise to some but it is, however, worth noting that the ZDF has a strong social responsibility programme in which the defence forces provide crucial services and assistance to civil authorities and communities in need," he said.

Mr Machaya, who stood in for the Defence Permanent Secretary, Mr Martin Rushwaya, said Zimbabwe was receiving support from China in its fight against illegal sanctions.

"Currently, the People's Republic of China is giving us immeasurable support as we fight against illegal sanctions imposed on our country by the West in retaliation to our land reform programme," Mr Machaya said.

Air Vice Marshall Titus Abu Basuthu, said the defence forces would provide support to patients.

"Our defence forces have come in handy to move the patients from various centres to the hospital," he said.

Acting Health and Child Welfare Permanent Secretary Dr Christopher Tapfumaneyi welcomed the unconditional support Zimbabwe was receiving from China.

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