At a special ceremony in Jakarta on December 23, 2008, President Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono presented John Fawcett of the John Fawcett Foundation with the prestigious Satyalancana Kabaktian Sosial Award for his outstanding humanitarian work in Indonesia, especially in providing free cataract surgery to the poor in Bali, Kalimantan and Nusa Tenggara Barat.
Fawcett is Founder and CEO of The John Fawcett Foundation, headquartered in Bali, which works primarily in providing sight restoring cataract operations to the poor, a task he has been pioneering since 1991. Over those years the projects has provided surgical assistance to over 25,000 cataract patients otherwise unable to pay or access the sophisticate surgery that can return their sight.
Curable blindness is a major problem in Indonesia, where 4 million are blind, and 3 million are curable, mostly with cataract surgery.
Fawcett said, "In Indonesia the most effective way to get the cataract surgery to the poor is by mobile surgical units which visit the villages, screen the people and stay a few days to operate and ensure safe recovery to each patient, then move on to the next area."
"These mobile clinics with a staff of one ophthalmologist, four nurses and two drivers, can screen over 50,000 people in a year, perform up to 10 cataract surgeries a day and cost as little as $150,000 per year to run and service. Fuel and travel costs are so high the poor cannot afford to travel to the cities, and we take the service to the patient. The highest incidence of blindness is amongst the poor, and it is the poor who remain blind, and will stay blind until someone provides free surgery.”
The air-conditioned mobile eye clinics are equipped with high-quality surgical equipment including microscope, sophisticated sterilization, biometry, and slit lamp for pre- and post-operative assessment. Microscopes are fitted with an assistant’s piece and digital camera for video image capturing for teaching purposes. The mobile clinic tows a 21kva diesel generator which provides stable power for operation in remote village areas.
In order to meet the shortage of skilled ophthalmic surgeons able to carry out effective, safe and affordable cataract surgery, the Foundation has an active surgical training program for Indonesian ophthalmologists focusing on small incision cataract surgery.
The Australian foundation which bears John Fawcett's name and is governed by a Board of Australian business people, is supported by tax deductible donations from Australia, the UK and the USA, and also receives private funding from Indonesia and other countries. It is structured as a legal action arm in Indonesia through the Yayasan Kemanusiaan Indonesia (YKI), which conducts its activities.
YKI also won a presidential award in 2006 for being the best humanitarian organization in Indonesia.
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