Eye care services in the North of Sri Lanka – Update

Further to free eye screening at Ananthi Eye Care (AEC), AssistRR have now been providing free cataract surgeries. As Karuna Trust promised, 25 Mullaithivu patients were taken to Suwanetha Eye Hospital near Rajagiriya on 1st June 2019 and surgeries were successfully conducted on the same day. Karuna Trust also took 25 of Pathaviya patients (screened at AEC) on the same day to Suwanetha for surgeries. Karuna Trust funded all the surgeries and looked after the patients very well. Ramakrishna Mission kindly provided accommodation and food on 31st May. Photos of this camp can be seen by clicking this link here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/39byeDfzApp5LM6A7 Further to our request to Association of Community Ophthalmologists of Sri Lanka, it arranged a surgery camp for 50 patients at Kadawatha Lions Eye Hospital on 09 June 2019. 49 patients were taken by bus to Kadawatha and 44 patients were successfully operated on the same day. Five patients had other medical conditions and couldn’t be helped. They have now been referred to Vavuniya and Jaffna hospitals. 5 of the 44 patients were recommended by Oru Paanai. These surgeries were funded by Uduvil Ratnam Family settled in Canada. Dr Prem Anand, Consultant Ophthalmologist Surgeon at Kalmunai North Base Hospital, made a request to AssistRR to support some surgeries at Kalmunai Hospital and told us that he can do around 40 surgeries on Sunday, 9th June 2019. AssistRR provided 40 lenses (IOLs) and consumables to enable these surgeries. He told us most of the mature cataract patients benefitted have already lost vision in one eye. These surgeries were also funded by Canadian Uduvil Ratnam Family and some of my Peradeniya 1980 Engineering batch mates from Australia and Canada,. AssistRR promised to assist more surgeries in the future, if needed. Photos of Kadawatha and Kalmunai surgery camps are given in the link here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/WjdjZD38iQSSCShS7

AssitRR would like to express its gratitude to Uduvil Ratnam family (Canada), Karuna Trust, some of my Peradeniya 1980 Engineering batch mates from Australia and Canada, and Ramakrishna Mission (Colombo) for their generous support to these efforts. A surgery is currently costing around £45-£50 due to various reasons, which are beyond our control. We should point out that this is the cheapest cost of a surgery at present. If anyone/any organisation interested in funding surgeries, please kindly contact us. There is still a huge backlog and we can certainly help the poor, elderly and vulnerable patients to regain their eyesight. We are taking another 50 patients from Mannar to Suwanetha Eye Hospital near Rajagiriya on 13 July 2019 for cataract surgeries.

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AssistRR’s Annual Dinner – January 2019 – An Update

We are delighted to inform that we have managed to raise £9,260.00, an amazing sum of money, at this year’s fund raising dinner in Solihull. We are incredibly grateful to all those who made this possible. We are going to use this to build an accommodation building for disable children in Mankulam. We wish to express our gratitude for all the support given by Mark Penney’s family and, in a broader sense, the community of Solihull School in helping the disadvantaged people of Sri Lanka. Mr Penney arranged to use their school refectory free of charges again for the second year. We would like to thank Mr Penney, Miss Franceska Yeaman, Conor Williams, and Harvey Blackhurst for their impressive presentations on projects carried out by them to assist the needy in Sri Lanka and Max & Amelia Penneys for their welcome speech. Our special thanks to many Solihull School parents who joined us at the dinner and generously supported our fund raising efforts. We have no words to thank the school community for their continued support. We would also like to thank our Patron, Dr K Somasundararajah for compering the event, Mr Selliah Yogamorthy, and our volunteer cardiologists, Dr Mayooran Shanmuganathan and Dr Manoharan Santhalingam, for their informative presentations. Special thanks to Miss Hanzika Bavananthan and Miss Harshika Bavananthan for their beautiful classical dance performances, which were well received by the guests including Solihull School community. Finally, we would like thank all of our volunteers including our trustees and members, who worked hard to make the fund raising dinner a successful one. Press here to see more photos of the annual dinner.

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Eye Care Services in the North of Sri Lanka

A message from our Chairman, Dr Velautham Sarveswaran:

I would like to share a personal charitable initiative in Sri Lanka with you. My wife Ananthi and I opened an eye clinic in Vavuniya on 24th March 2019. This clinic is funded by my wife and I and is named “Ananthi Eye Care” (AEC), which was ceremonially opened by Mrs Parameswary Amma, who is from Ampalavan Pokkanai (neighbouring village of Mullivaikal) and one of the early beneficiaries of AssistRR’s cataract free surgeries. She was taken from Mullaithivu to Mannar in 2013 for the cataract surgery in one eye, as she had already lost vision in the other eye due to cataract. Dr M Sathananthan, Consultant Gynaecologist from the UK, Dr Asela Abeydeera from Association of Community Ophthalmologists of Sri Lanka, Ganeswaran Velautham (Founder of Shivan Foundation and my brother) and many more guests attended the ceremony. See Photos of AEC Opening Ceremony here. Local Consultant Ophthalmologists have been carrying out eye screening at this centre. We provide fee paying as well as free eye care services at this clinic including free spectacles to poor patients. Free screening is currently costing around £5.50 per patient. We have so far screened nearly 200 patients from Mullaithivu, Mannar, and Pathaviya for free. These patients were brought to our Clinic by buses on 3 different weekends and were screened. Around 35 elderly patients from Udaiyarkaddu were recommended to us by Oru Paanai (a UK based charity). Nearly 175 of these patients suffer from cataract and some of them were clinically blind. These patients would require surgeries to regain their eyesight. Fifty patients from Pathaviya were brought to our clinic by Karuna Trust (http://www.karunalanka.org), which is chaired by Mr Mahinda Karunaratne, who, in return, offered to fund 25 cataract surgeries to patients from Mullaithivu.

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Assisting Hospitals in the East and North of Sri Lanka

Further to requests from some hospitals in the east and north, AssistRR recently donated medical instruments to some of these hospitals. AssistRR would like to thank Diaspora Tamils, who provided funds to assist the hospitals, as described below:

  1. Kalmunai North Base Hospital – Biometry A-Scanner to assist cataract surgeries – As the A-Scanner had broken down at Kalmunai hospital, patients were being sent to Batticaloa hospital for biometry scan. As a result, many elderly and vulnerable patients were experiencing difficult journeys. Consultant, Dr Prem Anand, at Kalmunai Hospital shared the issues faced by the patients and asked whether AssistRR could assist the hospital to have an A-Scanner. In order to assist the elderly and vulnerable patients, AssistRR donated this instrument to Kalmunai Hospital in March.
  2. Chenkalady Divisional Hospital, Batticaloa – 2 Multipara Monitors – This hospital serves many remote villages, where people face snake bites, attacks by elephants, and many more health issues. As this hospital did not have multipara monitors, “Our Society” members, Dr Kantha Niranjan and Mr Venugobal, made a request to AssistRR to donate 2 multipara monitors. AssistRR donated these instruments on 3rd April.
  3. Mullaithivu District General Hospital – 5 Air Mattresses were donated to help patients, who are paralysed below the waist.
  4. Vavuniya Nursing Training School – Funded a water filtering system – Principal of the training school approached AssistRR and made a request for a water filtering system. She informed that she has been trying to have a filtering system since 2011 but all her efforts have been in vain. Nursing students have been forced to either bring water from home in bottles or to buy bottled water from shops. AssistRR funded a water filtering system and opened it for use in April.

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More than 1000 Spectacle Frames donated by Solihull School

Poor elderly and vulnerable people in Sri Lanka with poor eyesight lead their lives without spectacles due to their inability to buy. They struggle to manage their day-to-day activities including reading without spectacles. Assist RR have been collecting spectacles in the UK and donating them to hospitals in Sri Lanka. These spectacles are then given to underprivileged people by the eye doctors. Solihull Junior School Head Master, Mark Penney’s daughter, Amelia, recently collected more than 1000 frames and reading glasses from Solihull School Community. A parent, who works for an Optician, donated hundreds of frames and reading glasses, which were brand new. Another parent donated a foci-meter, which is used to verify the prescription in a pair of reading glasses. Solihull pupils, Amelia, Francesca, and their friends also collected 255 women’s trainers to be donated to girls in Sri Lanka. Mr Penney, on his way to SCOT’s dinner as the chief guest on 20 Oct 2018, dropped these items in London to be shipped to Sri Lanka.

All these items have now been donated to the needy in Sri Lanka. The foci-meter was donated to Mullaithivu DGH hospital. The frames were donated to Kalmunai, Kilinochchi, Mullaithivu, and Vavuniya hospitals. These frames are given to patients with poor eyesight, who can’t afford to pay for them. The trainers were donated to schoolgirls in Thunukkai and Kilinochchi. I recently spoke with the eye medical officers of these hospitals. They told me that they have already run out of these frames and reading glasses and requested for more for the benefit of many more poor people. Assist RR’s sincere gratitude to Solihull School community, in particular to Mr Penney and his family, for their continued support.

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Cardiology Services Organised by Assist RR in Vanni, Sri Lanka

Dr Mayooran Shanmuganathan, a cardiologist from the UK, conducted free cardiology clinics in Mannar and Kilinochchi DG Hospitals for 5 days in March 2019. These clinics were funded from a donation of £2000 promised by UK’s St George’s University’s Diwali Show committee of 2018. Dr Mayooran saw over 150 patients and performed consultations and echocardiograms on all of them. He also performed over 35 exercise ECG treadmill tests in these two hospitals. This meant that many patients received a new diagnosis, treatment and referrals to specialist centres for ongoing treatment. It is worth noting that due to the absence of a permanent consultant cardiologist in the Vanni districts these patients face a long waiting time to see a specialist from Jaffna. In order to help alleviate some of these issues, Assist RR have been doing free cardiology clinics in Vanni since June 2017 using volunteer cardiologists from the UK. We have also donated several cardiology diagnostic equipment to hospitals in Vanni during this period. We are indebted to our well wishers and donors who make this possible. Please help us continue this with your contributions on http://assistrr.org/?page_id=1520

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Invitation to AssistRR’s Charity Dinner 2019 in Solihull

Dinner Invite

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