2002年10月24日 更新

2002年10月20日(日)夕方、東京都渋谷区にあるNHK国際放送局にミャンマーから白内障手術の研修に来ているチョー・スー先生と共に訪れました。 ラジオ日本の英語放送 Japan & the World 44 Minutesに出演するためです。 NHKはテレビ、ラジオで全世界に日本の情報を発信していますが、この番組はラジオ短波放送で、英語、日本語で放送する総合番組部とマレー語、ベトナム語、ベンガル語、ビルマ語などの20地域言語で放送する地域番組部に分かれています。 私は、英語でミャンマー医療活動についてインタビューを受け、チョー・スー先生はビルマ語で研修生活について話をする予定です。

今回の出演のきっかけは、当院の近くに住まわれている木村・竹内総合事務所の木村さんの紹介です。 木村さんは、烏雲の森沙漠植林ボランティア協会の会長です。 1996年から内モンゴル自治区東部に広がるホルチン沙漠の緑化運動を進めています。 徳島から何度も植林協力隊を編成し、地元の子供たちの教育もおこないながら、沙漠化を防ぐための植林事業をおこなっています。 その木村さんが、国際放送局の湯浅ディレクターと知りあいになり、Japan & the World 44 Minutesに出演し、その後、私を紹介してくれたわけです。

湯浅ディレクターから、9月初旬に、ミャンマーへの医療活動について、英語でインタビューを受けて欲しいという依頼がありました。 ちょうどミャンマーからチョー・スー先生が9月末に来日し、1ヶ月間、当院で白内障手術の研修をする予定であったため、10月に入ってからNHK放送局へ一緒にお伺いする約束をしました。

10月20日は、あいにくの雨でしたが、徳島から飛行機で羽田まで行き、2人で放送局を訪問しました。 入口で監視員にチェックを受けた後、湯浅さんが、国際放送局まで案内してくれました。 NHKは、初めてでしたので、見るものすべて珍しく、好奇心いっぱい、キョロキョロしていました。

原稿を用意していたのですが、発音、文法、大丈夫なのかドキドキです。 インタビューアーの近衛さんから「大丈夫ですよ」と言われたので、すこし安心しました。 湯浅さん、近衛さん、効果の中矢さん、ビルマ語チーフディレクターの田辺さんと打ち合わせをしてから、録音ルームに移動。 チョー・スー先生と田辺さんはビルマ語番組での放送となるようでした。 インタビューをはじめる前に、スタジオ内で近衛さんと写真を撮らせてもらいました。 そしていよいよ英語インタビューが始まりました。

簡単な英語の問い掛けで、気分をほぐしてくれた後、午後4時ちょうどから録音開始。 とても英語の上手な近衛さんに比べ、私はたどたどしく原稿を読んでいきます。 『ミャンマーで医療活動をはじめたきっかけは?』、『どのような活動をしていますか?』、『活動をしていて嬉しいことは?』などの質問をうけました。 約12分間の録音でしたが、かなり長く感じました。 その後は、ビルマ語チーフディレクターの田辺さんにインタビューアーが代わりました。 田辺さんは、大学でビルマ語を勉強した後、ヤンゴン大学に半年間留学していたそうです。 日本語でミャンマーにおける白内障ボランティア活動についてインタビューをうけました。

私のインタビューが終わって、チョー・スーさんにバトンタッチ。 田辺さんと二人、スタジオに入って、ビルマ語でインタビューをしていきます。 スタジオの外の録音室で会話が聞こえてくるのですが、全然、理解できません。 田辺さんは、ビルマのことを良く知っていて、『ホー・ケー、ホー・ケー』(OK、OKという意味)を連発し、まるでミャンマー人です。 湯浅さんも録音がオンになっているのかどうか気にしていましたが、無事終了。 最後に、近衛さんがチョー・スーさんへ英語インタビューをして終了しました。




1. Could you please tell us how you have come to perform cataract surgery in Myanmar?

 I opened my private eye clinic eight years ago in Tokushima.  My major is cataract surgery and laser vision correction.  I work at my clinic every day and sometimes go to Takashima eye clinic in Awaji island, Hyogo Prefecture for doing cataract surgery from 1996.

 Cataract is a common eye disease in older people.  A transparent lens in an eye ball is gradually becoming cloudy when a human getting old.  It causes visual disturbance, but it is cured by modern cataract surgery that is called PEA.  PEA is a surgical term that means phacoemusification and aspiration.  A cloudy lens is emulsified and aspirated by PEA machine's supersonic waves.  This surgery is performed with a high standard operation microscope, good PEA machine and skillful surgical staff.

 Dr. Takashima is also a president of Myanmar Association.  She is devoting herself to make a good relationship between Myanmar and Japan.  Myanmar association invited Dr. Myo-Mint, a bureaucrat in Myanmar Health Ministry, for a Japanese medical system study for one month in 1998.  Dr. Myo visited Takashima eye clinic to observe my cataract surgery during his stay.  After seeing the operation, he asked me to teach it to Myanmar eye doctors.  Because PEA was a new surgery technique and it was not performed in Myanmar at that time.  The doctors were used to an old cataract surgery technique, ECCE, which requires long surgery time, causes astigmatism and visual outcome is not good compared to PEA.

 I had been not involved in that kind of volunteer activity until then, but it seemed to me a good opportunity to challenge something new.  So I gladly agreed to go to Myanmar and teach the Myanmar eye doctors new cataract surgery technique.

2. And did you immediately begin treatment there?

 I didn't know about the medical situation in Myanmar.  So Myanmar Association arranged for a cataract surgery at Yangon Eye Hospital.  Dr. Takashima donated a high quality operation microscope and a new PEA machine which were transported to the hospital by air before our visit.  In February 1999, Dr.Takashima with one PEA machine and two operation microscope technicians, three surgical staff and I visited the hospital.  After setting up the operation microscope, we arranged for the next day's operation setting on the first day.  We did ten consecutive cataract cases on the second day and eleven cases on the third day.  The doctors were all amazed at how short the surgical time was and the good visual outcome following the operations.

 A PEA machine technician taught how to use it and arranged the setting for a inexperienced surgeon and the operation microscope technicians prepared the latest AV system for education.

3. Specifically,what do your activities involve?

 We started our volunteer activity in 1999 and have visited Myanmar eight times till now.  We are teaching a surgery technique by using pig eyes, giving lectures and demonstrating cataract live surgery at the Yangon and Mandalay Eye Hospitals.  Before doing cataract surgery on humans, we practice on pig eyes.  Its anatomical structure is very similar to a human eye.

 Many pharmaceutical and surgical companies donate eye drops, drugs, intraocular lenses and surgical instruments and so on, at every visit.  We took those materials to Yangon and Mandalay Eye Hospitals.  They are lacking in good quality surgical materials.  There is no company that provides eye care products in Myanmar.

 Dr. Win Hlaing, a doctor at Mandalay Eye Hospital, came to my clinic to see and study cataract surgery for two months in 2000.  He acquired PEA technique during his stay and now he is doing a lot of PEA surgery in Mandalay.  Dr. Kway Soe, a junior consultant at Yangon Eye Hospital, visited my clinic in late September and he is studying the surgery technique now.

4. How have the people in Myanmar responded to your efforts?

 After our visit to Myanmar, the doctors have gradually changed their surgical style from the old to the new cataract technique, PEA.  They all understand that PEA is superior to the old technique.  PEA is the best surgical procedure for cataract patients.  But it takes time to acquire the new technique and they cannot afford to buy the PEA machine.  The government bought three new sets of operation microscopes and PEA machines in 2001.  They are in Yangon and Mandalay Eye Hospital.  So the doctors have a lot of opportunities to learn PEA.  They are trying hard to become accustomed to that procedure.

 The good visual outcome performed by PEA is becoming popular in Myanmar.  Many patients are waiting and wanting to receive that kind of operation at our team's visit.  Professor Than Aung in Yangon Eye Hospital has to select the patients because operation cases during our stay are limited.  We've always done twenty to thirty cases involving very difficult ones that are too complex to do surgery for Myanmar doctors.

 After the operation, we check those patients next day.  They are very glad because they can see everything more clearly and the families also appreciate our team's surgery.

5. What impact did this experience have on you, personally?

 There are only 170 eye doctors in Myanmar.  They are all very honest and industrious.  They always welcome our visits and they are keen on learning cataract surgery from our team.  Actually their surgical level is not that high, but surely they are making progress.  It is my pleasure to educate and raise skillful surgeons.  They can provide quality cataract surgery for the Myanmar people.

 And it is also our pleasure to see the patients who become to see clearly and feel happy.  Before doing cataract surgery in both Hospitals, patients and their families are waiting outside the operation room.  They look forward to seeing again.  After the operation, we check those patients next day.  They are very glad because everything is so clear and colorful, they give their thanks to our team.  It is our pleasure too.

6. At the same time, are there challenges to be met?

 The main problems are lack of water and electricity.  It is difficult to get sterilized water, so ocular infection sometimes occurs.  And power failures are another problem.  We often have to wait for the electricity to recover during operation in the dark operating room.  Electric supply is not stable and this causes the PEA machine to fail.  We have to check and repair the machine at every visit.

7. Who supports your activities, and in what ways?

 Now we are working with the Association of Japan Myanmar in mutual cooperation.  It organizes the arrangements with the Myanmar eye doctors.

 Japanese and American eye drag and surgical product companies also support our voluntary activity.

 Tokushima prefecture provides the study plan for the two Asian selected working people for a year.  We are going to recommend Myanmar eye doctor or nurse for this plan.

8. And how do you hope to expand the activity in the future, and have you further goals the horizon?

 Our cataract surgery team, five members with Dr. Kway Soe will visit Yangon and Mandalay Eye Hospital at the end of this month.  We have arranged to do twenty cataract cases in both hospitals, give a lecture and teach surgery techniques to younger doctors using pig eyes.  We would like to continue this volunteer activity as long as possible.

 Our dream is to make a modern cataract day surgery center in Myanmar.  It would offer good medical eye care service to the Myanmar people.  The Myanmar economy is one of the worst in Asia.  There are many visually impaired people suffering from cataracts.  They can't work and have to stay at home and their families take care of them.  It is one of the big social problems.  If they can work by themselves, it would contribute to economic growth and the families would be free from trouble.  I think it is very important to provide good cataract surgeons in Myanmar.