Partnership enables cataract surgery for disadvantaged South Africans

‘Gift of Sight’ initiative restores vision of cataract patients

Thursday, October 19 2017

“I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you for allowing an 88-year-old “gogo” to see again. My smile is now everlasting, as I can see my grandchildren and family clearly again.”

Pictured at the event to acknowledge the Nedbank Foundation’s donation to the Gift of Sight project of the Netcare Foundation were: Back row, left  to right: Peter Warrener, Netcare Group HR director and trustee of the Netcare Foundation; Thabile Zulu, portfolio manager of the Nedbank Foundation; Mr Jeremiah Mthupi, cataract surgery patient; Bule Ntuli, Nedbank CSI alignment and reporting; Mr Grant Engelsman, cataract surgery patient; and Dr Nceba Ndzwayiba, general manager enterprise and supplier development at Netcare. 

Front row, left to right: Sharlene Swart, CSI project & funding manager/National Netcare Stork’s Nest co-ordinator at Netcare; Adelaide Senabe, CSI project manager of the Netcare Foundation; Mrs Nomasontu Tsuari and Mrs Violet Favor, cataract surgery patients. 

These were the heartfelt words of gratitude from Mrs Nomasontu Tsuari, who is one of the patients whose sight was restored through the Netcare Foundation’s Gift of Sight project.

Mrs Tsuari’s surgery was made possible by a donation by the Nedbank Foundation to the Gift of Sight project, which aims to provide disadvantaged South Africans with access to these vision-restoring procedures.

The Nedbank Foundation has supported the Gift of Sight project over the past three years with donations of over R400 000.

“Cataract blindness is the world’s leading cause of reversible blindness and it is critical that sufferers are able to access this life-changing surgery at the earliest opportunity,” said Peter Warrener, Group HR director at Netcare and trustee of the Netcare Foundation, at a special event held at Netcare’s head office in Sandton, Johannesburg, to thank the Nedbank Foundation for their support and to share in the success of their operations with some of the recipients.

“The Gift of Sight programme is most grateful to the Nedbank Foundation for this generous funding which has enabled a number of cataract operations for disadvantaged patients who would not otherwise have been able to afford it,” Warrener explained.

Speaking at the event, Thabile Zulu, portfolio manager of the Nedbank Foundation, said: “Our Foundation’s support of Gift of Sight, as well as other healthcare initiatives in South Africa, are a tangible expression of Nedbank’s stated purpose to use its expertise and resources to make a positive contribution to the development of our people and communities across the country.”

Warrener explained that although government had undertaken a substantial campaign to reduce cataract blindness in South Africa in recent years, thousands still suffer from the condition because waiting lists for the procedure are long and many people do not realise that cataract blindness is, in the majority of cases, completely reversible.

“A procedure undertaken by ophthalmic specialists removes the cataract, and surgically implants a special new artificial lens, which can completely restore the patient’s vision. The Netcare Foundation’s Gift of Sight initiative aims to assist public sector programmes to make this important operation more widely accessible to South Africans,” he added.

Zulu said that the Nedbank Foundation is touched that its contribution to Gift of Sight had assisted patients in need of cataract surgery, as the beneficiaries, most of whom are unemployed and disadvantaged would not have been able to afford it themselves.”

Untreated cataracts can potentially rob people of their independence, impair their dignity and often prevents them from even undertaking simple day-to-day tasks, such as cooking and reading, not to mention their very livelihoods in some cases.

“The Gift of Sight cataract surgery is performed at a number of Netcare hospitals, with many being undertaken as part of Netcare’s corporate social responsibility initiatives during Eye Care Awareness Month in September/October,” Warrener added.

“We have helped many people to realise their full potential or regain their quality of life, and are now looking to reach people in more remote areas of South Africa, as we continue to touch the lives of those individuals who are so often forgotten by society,” concludes Warrener.

Note to editors

The Netcare Foundation was established in 2010 and is registered as a public benefit company. It is governed by a board of trustees. In partnership with various organisations and healthcare practitioners, it has changed the lives of hundreds of South Africans afflicted with treatable medical conditions through its CSI programmes.

In order to qualify for surgery through the Gift of Sight programme, applicants must be South African citizens and present their identity document or birth certificate. They must either be unemployed or reliant on a state grant. If they do receive an income, it should be no more than R2 000 per month. A means-of-living test is applied.

Applicants also should have no access to a medical scheme or insurance cover and need to provide their own transport for consultations.

Applicants or their family members are invited to make contact via email on [email protected] or [email protected], telephonically on (011) 301 0374 or (011) 301 0107.

As a bank that is highly involved in the communities we serve, Nedbank’s corporate social responsibility efforts focus on education, children’s welfare, arts and culture, sport development, skills and community development as well as health. The Gift of Sight initiative is another proof point of our purpose, as financial expertise which benefits individuals, families, communities and businesses across South Africa. Through this initiative and others, Nedbank is doing its fair share in contributing towards building sustainable communities.

Issued by:     Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of the Netcare Foundation             and Nedbank Foundation
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Alison Sharp or Meggan Saville
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:        [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]