Israeli medical specialists from the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer Hospital wrapped up a humanitarian mission to Papua New Guinea in the southwestern Pacific earlier this month, having restored the eyesight of over 80 visually impaired people living in the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, the hospital announced.
The ophthalmology experts from the Goldschleger Eye Institute at Sheba were dispatched by the hospital’s Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response department and were part of a 10-member Israeli team sent on the mission. The doctors, headed by Dr. Eva Platner, a vitreo-retina specialist, performed cataract surgeries on villagers in an operating theater on a medical ship that set off from Australia, sailing the coast of the island while trying to reach as many villages as possible.
The mission launched earlier this month in collaboration with the humanitarian NGO NATAN – International Humanitarian Aid, and at the request of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, concluding on February 11. The 10-member Israeli team was part of a delegation of 120 people from 20 nations working with Youth With a Mission, an Australian organization that regularly delivers aid and services via medical ships to rural and isolated areas in Papua New Guinea and some of its off-shore islands.
Update from Papua New Guinea! The surgeries are going well and doctors are enjoying meeting with the locals.Seen here…
The Israeli team screened patients for cataract surgeries, most of whom were blind in both eyes because of neglected cataracts, Sheba Medical Center said. Cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye that leads to impaired vision over time, are generally treatable with the right medical care.
Platner said in a statement, “We’re trying to make a difference, and I hope it’s not just a drop in the big sea. It’s been a hard and sometimes complicated mission, both physically and mentally, but we overcame the challenges and… we helped a lot of people and their families see a brighter world once again.”
Platner had been providing updates throughout the mission, expressing excitement for patients that would soon be able to see, and highlighting some of the challenges of the weather and sea conditions. A video posted to Facebook by the hospital appears to show a warm welcome to the medical staff in one village, with children leading in song.
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Amazing!Members of the Papua New Guinea mission are given a spirited welcome.
Posted by The Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer on חמישי, 8 בפברואר 2018
Sheba Medical Center’s Director-General Prof. Yitshak Kreiss, a former Israel Defense Forces Surgeon-General, said, “Humanitarianism is a core value for Sheba Medical Center, and this successful medical mission to Papua New Guinea is the latest example of how we export our expert resources to help as many people as possible all around the world.”
The hospital established the Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response in the summer of 2017. Staff members are highly experienced specialists and experts dealing with preparation for and response to global humanitarian crises, and emergencies.
In collaboration with the NGO "Natan" and at the request of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheba's Israel…
Last month, a medical team from the center set off for the Eastern African nation of Zambia where a deadly cholera outbreak was wreaking havoc. The Israeli team was the first to respond to the medical crisis.
Israel has routinely sent relief and humanitarian missions across the world and is often the first or among the first to respond to crises and natural disasters.
Israeli teams, including Sheba doctors and other personnel from various organizations, were on the ground in recent years leading relief missions in a number of disaster-struck areas including Mexico in September 2017, following a massive earthquake that left over 300 people dead, Puerto Rico during the same period following a hurricane, Nepal in 2015 after a devastating quake killed over 9,000 people, the Philippines following a typhoon in 2013 that killed over 6,000, and Haiti in 2010 following a catastrophic earthquake that killed over 100,000 and as many as 300,000, according to some estimates.