Thousands of lives transformed

When Pam Townend reflects on the highlights of a recent mega health clinic conducted by Adventists in Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea, her thoughts immediately gravitate towards a particular elderly gentleman who needed cataract surgery.

Mrs Townend said the man had been living with cataracts for 10 years and had just accepted that it was his lot in life.

“When he heard about the mega health program it was his wife who insisted he go,” she said. “He said that he didn’t have much faith that things would change and then, when he saw the thousands of people waiting, he almost gave up hope.”

The man was fortunate to have the life-changing surgery and, afterwards, he couldn’t contain his emotions. “His smile and tears said it all,” said Mrs Townend, coordinator of the 10,000 Toes Campaign. “It’s the classic—a picture paints a thousand words.

“There were more highlights from the clinic than one could possibly write down, but it was the cataract surgeries that topped it off for me—giving back sight to people who had not had 20/20 vision for many long years.”

Cataract surgeries in progress

The elderly man was among 10,435 people who were seen by the clinic, based at Togaba in the Western Highlands. An initiative of 10,000 Toes and Adventist World Radio, the clinic was manned by more than 175 international volunteers serving alongside 400-plus 10,000 Toes ambassadors. Along with cataract surgeries, the services ranged from diabetes screenings to dental treatments, women’s health, counselling, optometry and paediatrics checks.

The 10,000 Toes Campaign is an initiative of Adventist Health aimed at reducing the epidemic of diabetes in Pacific countries. Every 20 minutes an amputation occurs in the South Pacific due to diabetes or an associated lifestyle disease.

Mrs Townend said, “We continue to meet people who do not know they have diabetes. Amputations are starting to take off in PNG, which is catching up to other South Pacific countries which have battled with this problem for a lot longer.

“Not having access to simple health services, like a blood sugar reading or blood pressure check, does not allow people to understand their health needs.”

10,000 Toes will continue its work in PNG through locally trained ambassadors.

Dental treatment at the mega health clinic.