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More than 250 elderly people have received free treatment for cataracts, pterygium, and other eye-related conditions in Thailand as the Seventh-day Adventist Church presses ahead with efforts to improve the health of local communities.
Adventist-operated Asia-Pacific International University hosted a group of volunteer ophthalmologists from the local Red Cross Society for a five-day Mobile Eye Surgery Eye Clinic last week.
The volunteers diagnosed underprivileged elderly people in the community and performed operations that lasted from a quick five to 10 minutes to as long as an hour.
"We praise God for an opportunity to take part in this project," said Diana Riesenberger, a university spokeswoman.
The mobile clinic was set up in various spots around campus, including a multi-use room, the dining room and the church parking lot.
The program was also supported by Varangkna Tongkamsai, an ophthalmologist with the Nations Relief and Community Health Protection Society, who conducted the eye operations.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has organized free community health services for years, with blood-pressure screenings and dental care being among the more popular initiatives. But the medical services have expanded significantly, especially in the past year, as church members step up efforts to reach out to their communities. Notably, nearly 3,000 people received $5.2 million worth of free treatment during a three-day event in Oakland and San Francisco in April 2014. The organizers of that project are currently signing up 1,200 to 1,500 volunteers to provide free medical care to 5,000 to 6,000 people in San Antonio, Texas, over three days in April 2015. The mayor of San Antonio has donated the use of the AlamoDome stadium for the event.
Read more about the San Antonio event
In Thailand, government officials were also grateful for the free eye clinic. Wichian Puttiwinyu, the governor of the Saraburi province, where Asia-Pacific International University is located, spoke at a ceremony that opened the clinic on Feb. 2.
Two days later, university president Loren Agrey gave a tour of the clinic to Phan Wannamethee, secretary-general of the Thai Red Cross Society and a representative of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, executive vice president of the Thai Red Cross Society.
The Princess Sirindhorn Mobile Eye Surgery Clinic was established in 1995 to commemorate the princess’ 40th Birthday. The project has advanced to be a surgical mobile unit to provide free eye treatment for people with cataracts, glaucoma and disease of the eyelids. More than 158,000 people have been treated, including 40,000 who received operations.