by Denis Elamu
JUBA, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Several South Sudanese patients suffering long time eye complications are reaping dividends of peace returning to the country following the government's decision to roll out free surgery campaign being undertaken by foreign and local doctors.
Julia Akur, 54, is one of several elderly eye patients who attended the free eye surgery campaign at the Juba-based Buluk eye center on Tuesday.
She told Xinhua after undergoing a successful operation on her right eye recently that she travelled all the way from Ruweng region, north of the capital, to benefit from the eye operation campaign being conducted by Egyptian and South Sudanese surgeons with support from both countries' governments.
"I have suffered for the last two years without medication due to financial difficulty and also the violence in my home town prevented me from accessing treatment but now after this operation on my right eye I hope to enjoy things I have not been enjoying before," she said.
Akur, who came out of the operation theater with her right eye wrapped with cotton wool and plaster, and with support of a walking stick besides her son, said she hopes to recover in seven months.
Adhel Dor Athian, a 50-year-old mother of five from the northern Gogrial region, who was standing in a long queue of patients being screened and registered for eye operation, said she is delighted as her suffering for nearly three years from eye infection was nearing an end.
"If I feel Okay I will go inform the rest of my colleagues in Gogrial suffering from eye complications to also come and benefit from this service. I thank the government for helping us because I could not afford the money for treatment," said Adhian, who was about to undergo the operation.
According to a disability assessment survey conducted by the government in 2011, about 424,000 people live with disabilities in South Sudan, with the majority of them getting disabilities from eye diseases, polio and physical injuries sustained during war and violent conflicts.
The report says 85 percent of persons with disabilities live in rural areas with limited access to basic services.
People with disabilities face enormous challenges such as limited access to health services, education and mobility as most of the country's public infrastructure does not have special access zones for people with physical and visual impairment.
Apal Ring Wol, 45, also from Gogrial region, said she hopes to finally recover her sight after suffering eye infection two years back that caused her to become blind in August this year.
Islam Sawahly, one of the several Egyptian eye surgeons flown in last week to conduct operations, said they will be carrying out at least 70 eye surgeries daily for one week.
"We are going to conduct eye surgeries on at least 70 patients daily for one week but we are expecting more patients to arrive at this center," he said, gesturing to the hundreds of both elderly and young people at the reception center.