The First Tobit’s Eye Treatment and Operation Project concludes

By Julma M. Narvadez


On November 12, the Post-Operation Evaluation of eye patients in the Vicariate of St. Raphael the Archangel concludes the first Tobit’s Eye Treatment and Operation Project. The project kicked off on September 23 and 24 where more than one thousand eye patients were checked at the covered court of the Municipality of Pili, Camarines Sur.


Consequently, around four hundred patients suffering from cataracts were operated on from October 13 to 16 at the Rural Health Unit (RHU) of Pili. Operation Klaro (OK), composed of a team of eye specialists from Metro Manila, conducted the check-up, treatment, surgery and post-operation evaluation. Most of the patients were indigents and parishioners within the Vicariate of St. Raphael the Archangel.


Operation Klaro (OK) is a Philippine based program formed for the elimination of preventable blindness. They have been doing the medical mission for the past 20 years at different parts of the country, mostly in partnership with local government units. Four years ago, a partnership with an international organization, the Surgical Eye Expedition (SEE), was firmed up. This year, a consortium was made among OK, SEE and Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP). The consortium aims to perform high value, high volume and high quality cataract surgeries and to establish a center for excellence to train ophthalmologists coming from the different parts of the world in the tradition, techniques and systems of Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS) and Sutureless Small Incision Cataract Surgery (SSICS). This outreach is a response to the data released by WHO that one billion people are suffering from preventable blindness, and 94 million are caused by cataract.


On July 7, Dr. Federico Malubay and wife Haydee met with Fr. Wilmer S. Tria and Fr. Rex Luis L. Hidalgo, parish priest and parochial vicar respectively, to explore the possibility of holding an outreach at St. Raphael the Archangel Parish. “It is a moral duty to conduct such an outreach, especially because St. Raphael restored the sight of the blind Tobit,” says Fr. Tria.


On August 25, Fr. Tria met with Acting Mayor Francis Belen who immediately showed his interest in supporting the project. Several municipal department heads were invited to the meeting to discuss the details. Another meeting was held on September 7 to clarify other issues while Dr. and Mrs. Malubay were online.


To ensure the volume of patients, Fr. Tria enjoined the Vicariate of St. Raphael the Archangel consisting of six (6) parishes to participate by announcing the project during Sunday Masses and spreading the word through their Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) or Saradit na Kristyanong Komunidad (SKK). The vicariate is composed of the parishes of St. Raphael the Archangel; Christ the King; St. Therese; St. Rose of Lima; St. Francis; and Our Lady of Remedies.


Other organizations provided vital assistance. Ateneo de Naga University sent their nurse instructors and student nurses to assist during the check up and the surgical operation, in close collaboration with Dr. Rafael Salles and the RHU-Pili medical team. Rotary Club of Nuvali documented the activity and hosted the thanksgiving dinner, together with Agri-Partylist. The Lions Club served snacks to the patients.


On November 12, the same team came back for the Post-Operation Evaluation. Out of the 400 patients who had cataract surgery and removal of the pterygium, 12 patients suffered from complications by not observing the protocols, such as, by doing the laundry or taking care of their grandchildren. They received treatment on the same day.


Reportedly, the local government of Pili saved Thirty Million Pesos as the ophthalmologists rendered their services for free.


According to Fr. Tria, the team is willing to come back to Bikol. “This time, in partnership with Ateneo de Naga University, the Archdiocese of Caceres and LGU-Naga,” he adds.