Over R1.5million was raised  to restore the hips and knees of 27 patients, along with the sight of 38 cataract patients by the Western Cape Health department last month.

Head of Health, Dr Beth Engelbrecht and her team, initiated a project to perform 67 operations that consisted of 27 knee or hip operation and 38 cataract surgeries.

The private sector funded the operations – medical professionals and the media helped raise money for surgeries that cost approximately R1.5-million.

The project began with the Mandela Day challenge to raise the funds.

Engelbrecht said, “When we began the Mandela day challenge it was a tough ask, but the generous support of all our partners, sponsors and medical teams made the task so much lighter.”

The project gathered more than R1.8-million for the surgeries to be performed at nine medical facilities across the province.

Facilities utilised included Eerste River hospital for all the cataract surgeries and Tygerberg, Groote Schuur, George, Paarl, Worcester, Victoria, Mitchells Plain, New Somerset – for the eight hip and knee operations.

The Western Cape Department of Health conducts over 6500 cataract operations, 300 total hip replacement operations and 300 total knee replacements in regional and tertiary hospitals, each year.

The 67 operations performed were for patients who have been on the Department’s waiting list for over two years, and were in dire need. Patients wait an average of 18 months for cataract surgeries and for hip and knee surgery the wait is an average of two years.

Currently more than 4000 people are waiting for an arthroplasty surgery, a surgical procedure that reconstructs or replaces the joints.

The department estimated it would need more than R400-million to clear the current waiting list for arthroplasty.

Western Cape Health Minister, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo shared the possibilities of funding, “This Mandela Day we have shown what is possible through private and public sector collaboration. This initiative is a blueprint for future partnerships. We call on business to support us in these life-changing initiatives for our people in the Western Cape.”

The funding that was not used will be reallocated to purchase 67 hearing aids to patients in rural areas of Eden, West Coast, Cape Winelands and Overberg.

Picture: Unsplash

Article written by

Ishani Chetty

Ishani is a vegetarian who is passionate about social issues, the environment and current affairs.