To celebrate World Sight Day (WSD) in October, employee volunteers from Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) in China visited the “Seeing is Believing V: A Comprehensive Rural Eye Care Model in Yunnan Province” project.
Activities included site visits and meetings with partners. They also observed cataract surgery, joined WSD campaign activities and visited a project in Qiubei County.
SCB Representatives included China Vice President and Seeing is Believing Project Representative Mr Xu Tianwei, China Hohhot Branch President Mr Pan Xuefeng, China Regional CEO of Risk Control and Prevention of the Individual Business Section Ms Liu Xiangru, China HR Manager Mr Han Yu, and China Sustainable Development Manager Ms Zeng Xudong.
A high-level partner meeting was held between official representatives from the Yunnan Health and Family Planning Commission and key people from the Second People’s Hospital of Yunnan (Yunnan Red Cross Hospital).
Mr Yang Dongxue, from the Yunnan Health and Family Planning Commission, introduced the Prevention of Blindness (PBL) in Yunnan and explained how the SCB-supported project complemented their work locally.
Mr Yang said the project was well-designed to address local needs. In particular, he acknowledged the project’s inclusion of cataract which is the leading cause of blindness, and how the inclusion of refractive error and diabetic retinopathy met local needs in the province.
Diabetic retinopathy was specifically highlighted as this was the first project which addresses the disease in the province. Mr Yang said he looked forward to the implementation of the model of comprehensive rural eye care and hoped it could be applied to more places in Yunnan.
Visitors also inspected the “wet lab” – a lab with operating microscope and other facilities for trainees to practise surgical operations. The equipment and training for county partner hospital eye doctors was supported through the project.
The SCB team praised the collaboration between the local health department and the tertiary hospital, and noted how the project has helped tertiary hospitals build the eye care service capacity of the secondary level county partner hospitals.
During the visit to the county hospital, a partner meeting was held at the People’s Hospital of Qiubei (Qiubei Hospital), which was attended by representatives from the County Health and Family Planning Bureau, the leader of the Qiubei Hospital, and the hospital’s eye care team.
At the meeting, the team leader of the eye care team provided an update on the project. After the meeting, the SCB visitors joined a World Sight Day campaign, organised by Quibei Hospital at a local township clinic. The visit ended at the home of an elderly couple who live with their son and the daughter-in-law in a remote village in the county. During a community screening, the couple was diagnosed with cataract and referred to the hospital for surgery. The operation successfully restored the couple’s sight.
Reflecting on the two-day visit, SCB volunteers said they were impressed by the hard work undertaken by local partners in the field to restore sight to local people and the benefits this delivered. They also applauded efforts by partners to overcome some of the project challenges.
The SCB team left Yunnan with a better understanding of the project, an appreciation of how local partners worked together, and how local community members benefited from local eye care services. They also believed the project in Yunnan was a suitable model that could be adapted more broadly in other areas of the province.