The Gilgit Eye Hospital in mountainous Northern Areas of Pakistan was opened in 1995 by Vision International Pakistan. The hospital has an established reputation for quality eye care and excellence of service from its eye hospital, blind school & community rehabilitation program. Scott Dumbletons involvement first started in 1997 when as a newly graduated optometrist he visited the hospital. Tracey first met Scott in 1999 when she was backpacking through Pakistan, she is an ophthalmic nurse. Scott was appointed project director of the hospital in 2006 which has expanded his role to deal with the administration of running the hospital and fundraising. Scott also works in the clinic seeing patients and training local staff. Tracey works with the operation theatre team maintaining and improving the surgical department, staff training and assisting with operations.
The most a patient would pay for a cataract operation is about 4,500 rupees ($110 NZ) if they can afford it. If they are genuinely poor and cannot afford surgery or medicine costs the local staff assess their situation and give a reduction of fees according to what they can afford; if they are in absolute poverty, it’s done for free, if it is relative poverty then somewhere in the middle. This compares to $400+ NZ if they take the 20 hour bus ride down to Rawalpindi. Local GP’s and village health workers from all over northern Pakistan refer patients for treatment, patients often traveling considerable distance. It deals with all the extremes in eye disease – with trauma, infections, cataracts, allergies and refractive eye sight problems. Surgeries are predominantly cataract and its other surgical procedures are trauma (emergencies), glaucoma pressure reducing procedures, trachoma related eyelid surgery and blocked tear duct reconstruction surgeries (DCR’s). The hospital has a dedicated team of almost 30 local staff, highly motivated and well trained. Annually the team can examine over 8000 patients in clinics and perform surgeries. None of the expatriate staff associated with the hospital receive any financial income or allowance from the hospital. The major donors are the Christian Blind Mission and Earth Mission, a US-based charitable organisation. http://www.visioninternational.pk/projects.html#eyeHospital