Many elderly people in Saipal live with treatable visual impairment for lack of medical facilitiesMore than 80 percent of eye patients will regain their sight if authorities conduct an eye camp, say health workers.
Out of around 500 elderly people in Saipal Rural Municipality, 300 are visually impaired. Most of them are suffering from cataract, an opacification of the lens of the eyes which leads to partial or total blindness in a person.
According to Nabin Bohara, the incharge of the Health Unit in Dhuli Village, most of the senior citizens in the rural municipality haven’t been able to seek treatment for their cataract due to the remoteness of the villages.
“It’s a treatable condition. But since the villages are in remote locations, medical facilities are not easily available,” said Bohara.
Parbate Bohara, 81, a local of Dhuli Village, has been partially blind for the past seven years. Over the years, he has visited the local health post several times and has been advised to go to Geta Eye Hospital in Kailali for treatment.
“But it’s impossible for me to go to Kailali. We have to walk for four days to reach Chainpur, the district headquarters, from Dhuli. Then it’s a day-long journey on a bus to the eye hospital,” said Parbate. “Since Dhuli is not connected to the road network, I will have to be carried on a stretcher to Chainpur. The journey from here to Kailali is an expensive one.”
According to him, he will have to employ at least 15 people to take him on a four-day journey to Chainpur and then to Kailali.
“The cost of accommodation and food for the helpers will be around Rs 100,000. I will not be able to bear the cost,” he said.
Parbate said he has heard about free eye camps being organised in other local units in the district but the same is yet to be organised in Saipal.
“The health workers at the local health post tell me that I can regain my eyesight with one simple surgery. But our local authorities have not organised free health camps here for us,” said 55-year-old Momita Rokaya, a local of Jagera in Saipal Ward No. 4.
Rokaya gradually lost her eyesight in the last six years and has been housebound for the past two years.
“I feel so helpless now. I don’t know what has happened to my eyes but people tell me it’s God’s way of punishing sinners,” said Rokaya. “But I don’t remember committing sins in my lifetime.”
According to the rural municipal office, every household has at least one person living with vision problems in most villages of the rural municipality.
According to the health workers in Saipal, most people above the age of 50 are living with eye problems in the rural municipality. Janak Kumar Bista, a former employee at Geta Eye Hospital in Kailali, said, “More than 80 percent of eye patients in the rural villages will regain their eyesight if authorities conduct an eye camp. I had requested the concerned authorities to conduct an eye camp while I was working in Saipal but they said it would be difficult to do so given the geographical remoteness of the area.”
Rajendra Dhami, chairman of the rural municipality, said he has taken initiatives to conduct eye camps in the rural villages but has not been successful.
“I had requested several organisations and individuals to set up free health camps in the rural villages of Saipal. But most turned down my request since the villages are far-flung with no road network,” he said. “If any organisation or individual is willing to come to Saipal to help us set up a free health camp, the rural municipality is ready to bear the expense.”
Meanwhile, Sanip Okheda, chief at the District Hospital in Bajhang, said that the hospital is planning to organise an eye camp in Saipal villages by the end of the current fiscal year.
“We had tried to set up eye camps in Saipal earlier but since there are no motorable roads, reaching these rural villages is not easy,” he said. “But we do plan to set up a free eye camp in Saipal soon.”