Warming relations with the West, cross-border murder and a suspended dam project have strained Myanmar's relations with China. While ties between the two neighbors may be showing some wear, cooperation on a non-governmental level continues to move forward.
One example of this collaboration is a medical mission organized last week by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from both countries.
China Friendship Peace and Development Foundation (CFFPD) and Myanmar Brightness Foundation brought six ophthalmologists and technicians from Yunnan First People's Hospital to Yangon's Myodaw Medical Center. During its visit, the team performed 364 free eye surgeries.
The two NGOs are working to establish a joint vision center in Yangon with the capacity to perform 1,000 cataract surgeries per year. All services offered by the clinic are planned to be free.
An initial investment of three million yuan (US$475,000) by the CFFPD will go towards training Burmese ophthalmologists and updating existing medical facilities in Yangon. The first group of doctors from Myanmar to receive training through this program will visit Kunming in July.
This is the second consecutive year a team of Chinese eye doctors has travelled to Yangon. Last year a total of 248 patients received free eye operations from visiting doctors. Vision correction surgeries are needed but often unaffordable in Myanmar and eye doctors outside of major cities are rare.
Myanmar has one of the highest rates of blindness in the world. More than eight percent of rural residents suffer from cataracts, glaucoma and other afflictions, according to Eyefoundation.org statistics.
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