“I feel fortunate to treat the Rohingya community”

The refugee crisis in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh began six years ago. Over 1 million stateless Rohingya now live in the world’s largest refugee camp. Thanks to the support of Qatar Charity we are able to work with our local partners to help thousands of people who have had little or no access to eye care.

Dr Saiful Islam has been on the front line in Cox's Bazar from the start. Helping protect the Rohingya community from avoidable blindness.

Here he shares his experiences with Orbis supporters:

“Eyes are the organ through which humans see the world. But when the Rohingya people arrived in Bangladesh in 2017 there were no eye care services for them. Even in Myanmar they had no access to eye care. As a result, I have treated many Rohingya patients who have lost the use of one eye already.

Integrating Eye Care Into the Camp

“Orbis was the first charity to integrate eye care here in the refugee camp, working in partnership with my hospital, Baitush Sharaf Eye Hospital. And after the establishment of the camp’s Vision Centre, the Rohingya community started to be referred to the hospital each day.

“Around 1000 Rohingya patients come here for medical treatment each month, with 30 per cent being children. Since these services began over five years ago, I have performed around 15,000 cataract surgeries.

“The community can’t afford to travel to the hospital or to undergo surgery. But with the help of Orbis transport is organised and these surgeries are free.”

A Drive to Help the Community

Dr Saiful Islam has been working with the Rohingya community for over five years

“I was born in Cox’s Bazar and it was always my dream to become a doctor and serve the people in this area. I feel very fortunate to treat so many refugees and contribute to the fact they have survived blindness.

“I have accumulated countless memories whilst treating the Rohingya people. A blind person is overcome with joy when they see for the first time after surgery. I once treated a woman who after regaining her sight after cataract surgery started running around shouting, “I can see people.” She held me and started crying. She did not know that I was her surgeon. It brought tears to my eyes.

“I thank everyone who has supported Orbis’s work in Cox’s Bazar. There is now hope for the Rohingya people, and we want to continue serving the community here with the eye care they need. If we stop, humanity will collapse.”

Life is extraordinarily challenging for the Rohingya people living in Cox’s Bazar already. Without access to quality eye care, it’s even more difficult. We would like to thank Dr Saiful Islam and all of the incredible eye care personnel working hard to deliver sight-saving treatment for those who need it most, and thank Qatar Charity, for their on going support, which makes sight saving programmes, such as this, possible.

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