Consultant’s Andean mission

Pieter Gouws
Pieter Gouws

A HOSPITAL consultant is heading out to the Amazon jungle in summer to help impoverished locals with eye diseases.

Pieter Gouws, one of the Conquest’s consultant ophthalmologists, will be working again with the Andean Medical Mission (AMM) in Bolivia in what will be his third visit.

He, together with other colleagues, are heading to the remote Beni district in the north east part of the country.

The AMM’s aim is to provide treatment for blinding eye conditions and to train local ophthalmologists to improve the eye care offered throughout Bolivia.

Mr Gouws will be joining the mission for the first two weeks in July.

He said: “The remote province of Itenez in the Beni district is the target of our direct interventions with training occurring in the cities of Santa Cruz, Trinidad and La Paz. The province of Itenez can only be reached by small plane in four to six hours or a two-day journey across the jungle on dirt roads. In 2013 we doubled the area where we offered treatment and this year we will double it again covering a vast section of the province. This is possible due to the increasing number of volunteers trained in optometry as well as ophthalmic surgeons and nurses. This mission is only possible with the tremendous help from all our fundraisers and volunteers.”

Mr Gouws uses his annual leave and funds all his own expenses including the costs of a theatre nurse who will be travelling to help during operations.

He added: “Our ongoing mission to improve eye healthcare for this highly impoverished community is building year on year. We have accumulated some excellent mobile operating equipment which allows for more complex surgeries with better outcomes.

“This year is our most ambitious project yet with a team of screeners and optometrists helping to fing treatable eye disease which allows our four surgeons to accomplish much more in our time there. We continue to train and educate local ophthalmologists on all our trips and have four training sessions in the cities planned.

“My sincere thanks for all the good wishes that accompanied me and all the fundraising that helps to fund our costs as all treatments are provided free of charge. A £20 donation is enough to fund one operation that can restore sight.”

For more information about the Andean Medical Mission please visit the website: