“I’ve always had a passion for charitable work and to give back, especially after my son was seriously unwell and recovered many years ago,” says Mr Hooman Sherafat, a consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Nuffield Health Parkside Hospital in Wimbledon and at Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Earlier this year, Hooman made his fourth trip to Bangladesh to provide free eye care to people in need. Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of untreated cataracts worldwide[i]. Poverty and a lack of awareness about health issues mean more than half a million people there are estimated to be blind as a result of cataracts[ii], which are the most preventable causes of sight loss worldwide[iii].
Hooman is one of a number of eye care specialists who visit Bangladesh to carry out cataract operations to restore vision. “The demand in Bangladesh is big and I feel a sense of achievement when I go there,” says Hooman. “I carried out 108 cataract procedures in five days during my last trip. In comparison, I carry out an average of 20 cataract procedures in the UK every week.”
“It’s a life-changing procedure for many, as they are visually impaired, and they cannot afford this treatment. Some of the people I helped in my visit were in their 40s and 50s, but I mainly treated older people, and some of the cataracts were considerably more advanced than what we see in the UK, due to the delay in treatment,” he adds.
Hooman volunteers for the Bangladesh Eye Care Society (BECS), as a group of volunteers and professionals which was established in 1988. “I fund my trip including flights and hotels; I take time off from my NHS and private practice,” says Hooman.
“The Bangladesh Eye Care Society (BECS) finds the patients who are in need and who often live in deprived conditions. For me, doing this is about recalibrating my mindset, as there is a need to adapt to the local and very contrasting clinical set-up and practices” he adds.
“I take a whole suitcase of disposable items and consumables with donations from the hospitals I work with. Some of the compromises made would be unacceptable in the UK but can be justified in Bangladesh given the limited resources.”
Hooman’s fourth trip to Bangladesh adds to Hooman’s previous trips to Ghana and Myanmar (twice), carrying out free eye care and cataract procedures each time. “I will 100 per cent go again.”
If you need eye care and would like to make an appointment with Hooman at Nuffield Health Parkside Hospital, please click here.
[i] Sightsavers UK website
[ii] Sightsavers UK website