Eye doctors give patients in need new look at life

When the gauze covering her right eye was removed, one young Uzbek girl could not help but let out a scream of delight.

Born with congenital cataracts, the 12-year-old had been waiting for the day when she would be able to see normally. The day eventually came when a team of Chinese doctors traveled to Uzbekistan in late 2019 as part of a medical aid initiative, known as Lifeline Express, to treat patients in need of eye surgery for free.

During their 20-day stay in the Central Asian country, Chinese healthcare workers from Peking University's First Hospital performed cataract surgeries for 455 patients aged from six months to over 100 years. They also provided training and gave lectures for local medical workers.

More Uzbek patients with cataracts and other eye diseases are set to benefit from the deepening China-Uzbekistan cooperation in the near future, according to officials.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said recently that China will provide free cataract surgeries for another 500 Uzbek patients and set up a cooperation center for blindness prevention in Uzbekistan.

The collaboration was revealed as part of a series of bilateral consensuses reached during Wang's visit to Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan, in late July.

For a number of local patients, expertise and knowledge brought by Chinese doctors were their last hope for restoring their vision.

During the previous mission in 2019, an elderly Uzbek man, born in 1919, was eager to meet the Chinese medical team with his family members upon hearing of their arrival. He had been troubled by poor eyesight for a long time but no local hospital was willing to perform an operation on him due to his advanced age.

His eyesight improved markedly the first day after surgery. "I could never have imagined that I would be able to see clearly again at 100 years," he said.

The two countries will intensify medical cooperation in many aspects, including in expanding the joint production of vaccines, with the Chinese side assisting Uzbekistan in building a regional center for vaccine production, as well as research and development.

Xinhua contributed to this story.