Fund Helps Tibetans Regain Eyesight
[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 03/03/17; March 17, 2003.]
About 14,000 cataract sufferers in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region have regained their eyesight in the past 17 years, thanks to a medical programme sponsored by a non-government charity organization.
The majority of the patients were local residents, farmers and herdsmen ranging from teenagers to people more than 80 years old.
To improve local medical conditions and provide financial aid for local social development, the Tibet Development Fund raised nearly 100 million yuan (US$12 million) to help Tibetan cataract sufferers, it was revealed at a weekend meeting.
With an investment of over 1 million yuan (US$120,000), it built an ophthalmology centre in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Due to high altitude and excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays, Tibetans have a cataract incidence rate double that of other parts of the country. Yet most counties and townships in Tibet have no eye hospitals.
"What we have done is supplement the central government's programme and serve the people in Tibet and other areas inhabited by Tibetan people," said Ngapoi Ngawang Jime, president of the fund and vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, at the weekend meeting.
Since 1997, the fund has also helped the health department of the Tibet Autonomous Region carry out a three-year random sample investigation and set up a database for people with cataracts.
In addition, the fund has raised more than 72 million yuan (US$8.7 million) for Tibetan education, poverty alleviation and public welfare programmes.
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