MEDAN, 24 November 2022 – PT Agincourt Resources (PTAR), the operator of the Martabe Gold Mine, closed the free cataract surgery social service “Open Your Eyes and See the Beauty of the World.” A total of 827 cataract eyes were successfully operated on and cured through seven rounds of surgeries in South Tapanuli and Medan City, North Sumatra, from September to November 2022.
The number of eyes operated exceeding the initial target is a testament to the great enthusiasm of the people around the Martabe Gold Mine to the residents of the capital of North Sumatra for PTAR’s concrete efforts in the field of public health. The closing ceremony was held at the Mencirim 77 Special Eye Hospital, Medan, on 24 November 2022, attended by the Governor of North Sumatra Edy Rahmayadi, President Director of PT Agincourt Resources Muliady Sutio, Director & CFO of PT Agincourt Resources Noviandri Hakim, and Commissioner of PT Agincourt Resources Linda Helena Darmalina.
In his speech, PT Agincourt Resources President Director Muliady Sutio expressed his greatest appreciation to all parties involved in this noble program so that all rounds of free cataract surgeries ran smoothly and benefited the wider community. According to him, this series of free cataract surgeries could be held due to the support of the Provincial Government of North Sumatra, the Government of South Tapanuli District, the community around the Martabe Gold Mine area, and all stakeholders in South Tapanuli and North Sumatra.
“We express our highest appreciation to the patients who have participated in this free cataract surgery. Some of them are the breadwinners of their families, the life support of their children, and there are also children who are still in school. Congratulations to the patients who have recovered and are back to being productive and independent in living their lives,” said Muliady.
He emphasized that the series of free cataract surgeries held annually by PTAR is concrete evidence of the company’s commitment to supporting public health, especially the underprivileged. In a broader framework, the implementation of cataract surgery is in line with the third goal of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), which is ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.
Free cataract surgery “Open Your Eyes to See the Beauty of the World” has been held by PTAR since 2011. Year 2022 will be the eighth year that PTAR has held a series of free cataract surgeries, to be precise at Bhayangkara Hospital, Batangtoru, South Tapanuli with the number of eyes operated on reaching 525 eyes and at Mencirim Hospital 77 Medan with 302 eyes operated on.
North Sumatra Governor Edy Rahmayadi thanked Agincourt Resources for organizing a series of free cataract surgeries in North Sumatra. He also witnessed a cataract surgery and greeted a number of beneficiary residents after participating in giving eye drops to beneficiaries.
“This activity is very beneficial for the community, more than 800 residents of North Sumatra feel the benefits. I hope that this free cataract surgery will continue to be held by Agincourt Resources, and other Agincourts will appear to hold activities like this,” said Edy.
Restore the Eyes of Children with Cataracts
Senior Manager Corporate Communications of PT Agincourt Resources, Katarina Siburian Hardono, emphasized that cataract surgeries performed by PTAR for the under-priviledged is important to reduce the prevalence of blindness due to cataracts which is quite high in North Sumatra.
Referring to the results of the Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RABB) Survey for 2014-2016 alone, the prevalence of blindness due to cataracts in Indonesia has reached 1.9%, with around 90% of visual impairments occurring in low-income areas. In North Sumatra alone, nearly 80% of blindness in the population aged 50 years and over is caused by unoperated cataracts, which according to data from the Ministry of Health, some North Sumatra residents do not cure their cataracts for financial reasons.
“PTAR’s concern has been proven to bring direct changes to people’s lives, the results of which can be felt for a lifetime. Since 2011 until now, cataract surgeries performed by PTAR have cured 8,945 cataract eyes. This year alone, 827 eyes were operated on, around 75% of which were from South Tapanuli,” said Katarina.
Beneficiaries who undergo cataract surgery in 2022 come from various districts/cities, such as Padangsidimpuan, Mandailing Natal, Nias Islands, Medan City, Deli Serdang, and Langkat. As many as 20 patients domiciled in South Tapanuli with special conditions were taken to the Mencirim 77 Hospital in Medan for surgery.
“Patients who are brought to Medan accompanied by their respective companions do not spend any money, because we cover all transportation and accommodation costs. One of the patients brought to Medan was a 14-month-old child who had cataracts since birth. Our vision is clear, which is to provide the best service for all beneficiaries,” said Katarina.
A 14-month-old beneficiary, Mutiara Nur Olivia, became the youngest patient in the 2022 series of free cataract surgeries. Mutiara’s mother, Epaliani, admitted that she was very grateful for the free cataract surgery her child had received. From their home in Muara Batangtoru, South Tapanuli, she and her husband took their daughter who had cataracts in both eyes to undergo cataract surgery at the Mencirim 77 Hospital in Medan.
“My husband and I really hope that Mutiara can see like her other friends. This free cataract surgery has really helped us a lot,” said Epaliani.
Initially, Epaliani and her husband, Pangihutan, had raised money to have Mutiara’s cataracts operated. The money comes from Pangihutan’s income as a laborer on a palm oil plantation. By participating in PTAR’s free cataract surgery, the funds that have been collected will be diverted to pay for Mutiara’s future education.
Apart from Mutiara, 11-year-old Alfandi Wijaya, a resident of Langkat, is also a beneficiary of a free cataract surgery organized by PTAR. Alfandi was found to have cataracts when he was 4 months old. He often receives scorn from his friends because he has a cataract in one eye, moreover he is deaf and has difficulty speaking.
“I really want Alfandi to see clearly, so he can learn and play football like other children. But I don’t have the money for the surgery. Luckily, I heard that the Martabe Gold Mine is holding free cataract surgery, so I registered Alfandi,” said Alfandi’s mother, Rohana.
Rohana had been waiting for Alfandi’s eyes to see normally for years, but she was helpless due to limited funds. Her burden became even heavier after her husband passed away a year ago, so she had to open a grocery store to support Alfandi and her three other children.