The Health Ministry and the GX Foundation on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding to initiate the Eradication of Cataract Blindness programme in the Kingdom.
The MoU was signed by Health Minister Mam Bun Heng and GX Foundation chairman Leung Chun-Ying.
The GX Foundation is a non-profit organisation registered in Hong Kong. Its objective is to provide humanitarian aid in the public health sector. The foundation was established last year to realise people-to-people connectivity under China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Mr Leung said the signing of the MoU marked the beginning of the foundation’s efforts to eliminate blindness caused by cataracts in Cambodia by first providing free surgery to patients living in Prey Veng province.
“Under this programme, the foundation will provide surgical operations free of cost to restore the eyesight of all patients with cataract blindness in Prey Veng. Our goal is eradicating cataract blindness in the province,” Mr Leung said. “The surgeries will be conducted by Chinese medical teams on board two mobile eye treatment centres.”
Mr Bun Heng said eliminating blindness is one of the government’s priorities, and working with the foundation is advantageous.
“It is a good opportunity for the GX Foundation to help the Cambodian people,” he said.
Mr Bun Heng noted that a government programme called the National Programme for Eye Health was established in 1995 after eye health was identified as a public health concern.
“I would like to inform you that the national programme has been going smoothly and successfully. We have learned a lot from the Guangxi medical team,” he said.
Recently, Cambodia made a major achievement by eliminating trachoma, a roughening of the inner surface of the eyelids that could lead to blindness.
Mr Bun Heng said cataracts are next.
“Another major eye health problem in Cambodia is cataracts,” he said. “They are the cause of 74.7 percent of all blindness [in the Kingdom].”
“Up to now, the programme has provided Kampong Cham province with more than 10,000 consultations on eye problems and performed cataract operations on 4,961 patients,” he said.
“We need more resources to combat this problem, including manpower as well as modern equipment,” Mr Bun Heng said.
He then praised the cooperation between Cambodia and China.
“Because Cambodia is a country that has comprehensive strategic cooperation partnership with The People’s Republic of China, I hope that Cambodia will benefit,” he said.
“I strongly believe the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding…will bring academia and the public and private sectors from both countries, China and Cambodia, to work closely together to eradicate cataract blindness in Prey Veng province and eventually in the whole of Cambodia,” Mr Bun Heng said.
Chinese Ambassador to the Kingdom Wang Wentian on Tuesday said GX Foundation’s participation is part of the BRI.
“[The foundation] is not only enriching the content of China-Cambodia BRI cooperation, but it is also promoting people-to-people exchanges between the two countries,” Mr Wang said, noting that aid in the Kingdom’s medical care sector is part of the BRI cooperation.
“Aside from helping construct friendship hospitals in Cambodia, China has been providing medical care to the Cambodian people in various forms, ranging from eradicating cataracts, fighting malaria, to [providing] medical operations for child patients of cardiovascular diseases,” he added.