Tibetans preserve their unique culture.
Seva Eye Camp Report September 2001
Received November 14, 2001
A REPORT ON A VISIT TO LHASA AND YUSHU BETWEEN SEPTEMBER
Zadoh eye camp held in cooperation with Gaden Relief Projects.
Dzatoi is the Chinese rendering of Zadoh]
Seva planned to conduct an eye camp in July 2001 at Jiegu town
in Yushu. The objective of the eye camp was to provide service
to the cataract blind patients and also to evaluate the performance
of the surgical team of the Yushu prefectural hospital and also
to help them plan eye care in Yushu. Mr. Geyong from Tibet Development
Fund (TDF) contacted the local health bureau and other authorities
and informed Seva that a large eye camp had been conducted in
May 2001 by China Sight First Action group and about 300 patients
had been operated at Yushu prefectural hospital. And moreover,
in July 2001 there was the 50th anniversary of the communist
regime and hence we decided to postpone the eye camp to September
On the 3rd of July 2001, Mr. Tashi Tshering from Jinpa project
based in Nanghen county made a trip to Dzatoi on behalf of Seva
and confirmed that there will be enough number of patients for
an eye camp in September.
Dzatoi county government head office sent an invitation letter
to the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. With that letter, myself
and Narayan B.K. from Lumbini eye hospital could obtain the
visa to visit Tibet.
Narayan was asked to bring the necessary medical supplies and
a portable scanoptics microscope, gowns, dresses and two cataract
sets from Lumbini as per the recommended eye camp list of Lumbini
eye hospital. From Seva Kathmandu we took one more surgical
microscope, an autoclave and two drums and 100 pairs of Aphakic
glasses as requested by Mr. Tashi Tshering.
Thanks to Mr. Karimulla (Osmans brother) that we did not
have to pay for excess baggage.
Qn the 6th of Sept. 2001 we reached Lhasa safely and met Mr.
Geyong la at the airport. He helped us check into Keychu hotel.
Immediately after that we went to the bank and changed the 3000US$
sent from Seva Kathmandu office. Geyongla gave us a receipt
of the same. After that we went to the Chinese southwest airlines
office to buy tickets for Chengdu for the five team members.
On the 7th of Sept. 2001 we visited Menzhikhang and operated
on two cataract blind patients. From Menzhikhang they could
send Dr. Phubo Chodren and Dr. Deven la to attend the eye camp
at Yushu with two cataract sets. We asked them to bring 25 eye
towels too. Dr. Yangki la and Dr. Nawang la ofMenzi Khang had
to leave for an eye camp at Shigatse. The new building for the
eye department at Menzi Khang looks impressive. It looks well
furnished and ready to function.
On the evening of 7th Sept. 2001 TDF invited us to a dinner.
We met Dr. Suman and his team from Tilganga eye center who had
just finished an eye camp at Lhasa eye center. We also met the
officials of the Nepalese consulate. Mr. Tseten dorjee and Dr.
Suman impressed everybody with their Hindi and English songs.
On the 8th of September 2001 Geyongla, Phubu Chodrenla, Devenla,
Narayan and myself reached Chengdu safely. Sombody from TDF
branch office in Chengdu received us and helped us check into
a hotel where foreigners are generally not allowed. After that
Geyongla went to hire a mini bus to take us to Yushu.
On the 9th of September 2001, we were taken in a tourist coach
by a Chinese driver who made sure that we had a comfortable
journey. That night we reached Dartsendo.
On the 10th of September 2001, we reached Ganze prefectural
On the 11 th of September 2001, we reached Sichu around 5pm.
The Chinese driver told us that the road condition from Sichu
to Jiegu town is not good and hence we need to hire another
A young Tibetan driver with his assistant (a monk) took us in
their very old looking Toyotajeep which needed to be fixed twice
on the way. The road was very muddy at places because of the
rain fall hence an experienced and skilled driver like the one
we had could help us through the deep pits and crevices. Around
mid night we reached Jiegu town and thanked the driver and God
for our safe arrival.
On the 12th of September 2001, Mr. Tashi Tsering met us and
advised us to proceed to Dzatoi county. We asked for Dr. Souna
Yangzom, Ms. Dolma and Dr. Muma from Yushu prefectural hospital
to accompany us to Dzatoi county bring their Scan Optics portable
microscope too. The three of them and Dr. Jumei had received
training on Seva's sponsorship at Lumbini eye hospital in Nepal.
Dr. Jumei who was trained on eye care management at Lumbini
was very sick this time.
Mr. Tashi Tsering tried to call Mr. Nima Rinchen the headmaster
of the Tibetan school to enquire about Dr. Isac Sobol but failed
to contact him.
Mr. Pie Tri Jee the Director ofDzatoi county hospital drove
us to Dzatoi. Ms. Donchi and Governor ofHealth and Education
in Dzatoi county came with her friends to receive us and invited
us to a dinner that night where she thanked us for making such
a long and hazardous journey for the benefit of the patients
in her county.
She informed us that there were 600 people waiting for us. That
night after dinner we visited Dzatoi county hospital and helped
set up the operating room, the anaesthesia room etc. The locals
were most helpful in providing us the necessary assistance.
On the 13 th of September 2001, Ms. Donchi and her team helped
line up the patients so that we could carefully examine them
and post them for surgery if needed. While we were examining
the patients our friends were setting up the operating room
and sterilizing instruments, drapes etc. That evening we operated
on 30 patients.
On the 4th of September 2001, we provided post operative care
in the morning and Narayan examined outpatients while the rest
ofus were busy in the operating room. That day we operated on
On the 15th of September 2001, we operated on 49 major cases
and 5 minor cases. In these three days we would have seen about
600 patients and operated on 133 cataract patients and 5 patients
with minor diseases. The details of the patients operated are
given below. That night we had a dinner together where we thanked
each other. We were very impressed with the kindness and hard
work the local people of Dzatoi county put for the benefit of
On the 16th of September 2001, we did a post op examination
and towards the end of the post operative round there was a
moment of emotional exchange when the patients and their relatives
buried us in piles of white scarfs to express their happiness
and to mark their gratitude to Seva and others who helped restore
sight to the blind people in Dzatoi county. Mr. Tashi Tsering
had interviewed and taken pictures of a 16 year old girl who
had left school because of her poor sights due to cataract.
After the operation in her both eyes she felt so happy on being
able to see again. When Tashi Tsering asked what she would like
to do next, she said she would like to go to school and become
a doctor someday. Mr. Tashi Tsering kept telling this story
time and again and said he would like to send the girls
story and her picture to Alexa. After the post operative round
Mr. Pie Tri Jee drove us back to Jiegu town.
On the 17th of September 2001, we were asked to meet the vice
director of the Yushu prefectral hospital. The lady vice director
told us that there are 6 prefectures in Qinghai province. She
said Yushu is the first prefecture were intraocular lens implantation
surgery is done. She thanked Seva for that. Eye doctors from
other prefectures come to Yushu to see how IOL surgery is done.
On behalf of Seva I also thanked her for sending Dr. Sonala
and her team to Dzatoi county. We are impressed by their kindness
and had work and felt extremely happy to see that all the patients
operated by Dr. Sonala had no complications during the operation.
Postoperatively also the did very well. We requested the vice
director to come up plans so that Seva can support Dr. Sonala
and the team to provide more service to the blind patients of
That day we examined about 100 patients in the morning and operated
on 30 cataract blind patients. That day Dr. Isaac Sobol came
to see us and two students from Tibetan school saw cataract
surgery with Intraocular Implanatation. Later that evening we
had a lively and enjoyable dinner at Mr. Tashi Tshering'sfriends
house in the company of Dr. Isaac Sobol and his friends.
On the 18th of September 2001, we operated on 29 patients and
saw a few other out patients. Two patients could not be operated
due to conjunctivitis though they had accompanied us from Dzatoi
county. We asked Dr. Sona la to operate on them once the
On the 22nd of September 2001, we took Dr. Devenla to the renowned
Quasi Medical College and showed her at the orthopedic department.
The Doctor advised X-ray again. Being a Saturday that day we
were asked to come back on the 24th of September 2001 Monday.
On the 24th of September 2001, Mr. Geyongla collected the X-ray
report and the prescription from the doctor. The report states
a small fracture on the right side of the hip bone. X-ray films
were not given. The medicine prescribed consisted of Chinese
medicines to improve healing of the bone. Not knowing Chinese
myself I felt like a fool and could not understand the actual
diagnosis of Dr. Devenlas condition. That afternoon we
left for Lhasa. Dr. Devenla cannot lift her right leg and still
cannot walk. She can extend her knee but cannot flex her right
hip joint. She has been advised bed rest for 45 days.
We left the remaining IOLs, vescoelastic material, sutures,
medicines a portable autoclave, three drums, remaining aphakic
glasses and one bipolar cautery with Menzhikhang. They have
been asked to make a list of the things received and send it
We reached Lhasa safely and were asked to attend a dinner hosted
by TDF. During the dinner Jigyuanla showed Alexa s letter.
As we discussed the eye care planning we felt that Seva and
TDF should come up with a three or five year plan with focuses
on clearing of the backlog of cataract by engaging the trained
cataract surgical teams and improving access for the patients
especially women and children, by building the capacity of the
primary health care workers at county and village level to screen
blinding diseases which are curable.
Dr. Chunhua from Ngari was present in the dinner. She has been
asked to submit a proposal for prevention of blindness in Ngari.
Similarly, Mr. Geyongla was asked to contact the other Seva
sponsored trained cataract surgical teams to submit their respective
plans. Mr. Tseten Dorjee was asked to submit a proposal ofLhasa
eye center. The initial drafts of the proposal made by Tibetan
doctors will be improved by inputs from Seva and TDF. It was
expressed that TDF could playa key role in mobilizing the international
support to restore sight of the blind people of Tibet.
That night Dr. Yangki la came to the hotel to give khatas on
behalf of the Director of Menzi Khang. She said they operated
on 200 cataract blind patients at Shigatse. She herself did
about 100 cataract surgery.
On the 25th of September 2001, Narayan and I reached Kathmandu
1. The road to Yushu is hazardous. It is more hazardous for
the patients who live far away and travel through more difficult
2. We could only provide cataract surgery this time. A more
comprehensive eye care is needed. We have piles of donated spectacles
at Canada and but have no time to do refraction at the eye camp
3. The local team at prefectural hospital of Yushu is competent
enough to do cataract surgery and provide primary eye care.
But they lack the resources to do outreach activities.
4. We hope that the federation of the disabled, the health bureau
and the local government can capitalize on the strengths of
the local team and send proposals to Seva and other interested
groups within China so that the patients at Yushu can get good
5. Mr. Tashi Tshering could be a linkage for Seva and TDF to
the local authorities. His understanding of the local conditions
and the INGOs interest makes him a good contact person
for all concerned.
6. Under TDFs initiative we started the training of the
Yushu doctors and conducted a successful eye camp in 1997. TDF's
continued interest and support is called for .
7. This time the eye camp at Yushu was successful with no major
complication during the operation or postoperatively. The local
authorities of Dzatoi county seem very motivated to serve the
blind in their county. We hope they will continue to conduct
eye camps on a regular basis and called the doctors from Yushu
8. Yushu prefectural hospital rendered their kind support by
sending its team and proving that they can do a good job. We
hope more of such eye camps and training of village level doctors
and county level doctors be done at Yushu prefectural hospital.
9. The only major difficulty we faced was the need to arrange
for good conditioned vehicles on the spot for our traveling.
Geyoung la tried very hard and we all felt his anxiety through
out the journey. We escaped from a major accident. Hope, Dr.
Deven la recovers soon and shows us the Tibetan Dance steps
she is famous for .
10. The lesson we learnt is that the interest of the foreigners
alone to help the people in Yushu is not enough. The locals
have to be motivated too. After all it is in the hands of the
local authorities to assemble patients and provide other logistic
supports and make traveling safe for patients and staffs alike.
With these words, we wish to acknowledge the help of all the
people who gave us this opportunity to serve the blind nomads
of Yushu. Please forgive us if we have excluded any name which
should have been included
1. Dzatoi county government head office for sending us the invitation
2. Ms. Donchi
Governor ofHealth and Education
3. Dzatoi county hospital director Mr. Pie Zhi Jee
4. Mr. Tashi Tsering, Director Jinpa project
5. The Vice-Director and the surgical team from Yushu Prefectural
6. The PSB office at Yushu allowing us to visit Dzatoi without
The officials from TDF branch office for receiving us and arranging
the travel permit for us to return to Lhasa.
1. Mr. Jigyuan la and Geyong la from TDF for his hard work
2. The Director and the doctors from eye department, Menzhikhang
D: Lumbini Rana-Ambika Eye Hospital
1. For sending Narayan who packed all the medicines and worked
Shravan Choudhary, Bishnu Choudhary from Kathmandu Seva Office.
Mr. Karimulla from Kathmandu-Lhasa Tours and Travels. Ms. Alexa
Wilkie for continuosly inspiring us to visit Yushu, Mr. Michel
Davidson and Dr. Isaac Sobol from Seva Service Society, Canada