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Some 45,000 cataract patients get free surgery
2005-03-01 04:22:34 XinhuaEnglish

BEIJING, March 1(Xinhuanet)-- More than 45,000 cataract patients in China's poverty-stricken areas have received free surgery at the"Lifeline Express", a mobile hospital set up on a train nearly eight years ago, said Chinese Vice Minister of Health Huang Jiefu here Tuesday.

Huang made the remarks at a farewell ceremony for the express, which will later leave Beijing to provide free cataract surgeries for those patients in need, especially for poor residents suffering the disease in vast rural areas.

The"Lifeline Express", including three four-car hospital trains donated by Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, have been in service on the Chinese mainland for nearly eight years, ata cost of 150 million yuan(about 18 million US dollars) provided by Hong Kong and mainland donors.

The trains, manned with top ophthalmologists and equipped with sophisticated facilities, have traveled to 47 poverty-ridden areasin 19 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, helping torestore the vision of 45,000 cataract patients.

Thanks to the"Lifeline Express", Huang said, a large number ofadult patients have acquired labor force and bid farewell to poverty, and young patients can now go to school along with other fellow healthy children.

"For those cataract patients living in abject poverty, we not only restore their vision, but also provide them with opportunities to live better and richer lives," said Chen Shu, a doctor who embarked on her journey on the"Lifeline Express".

During the Lifeline Express' operation tour this year, eye doctors are expected to perform surgeries on approximately 9,000 cataract patients in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, northwest China's Gansu Province, southwest China's Guizhou Province, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, north China's Shanxi Province, central Hunan Province, southwestern Yunnan Province and eastern Shandong Province.

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