AMDA Ophthalmologist and Cataract Mission in Mongolia 2011
AMDA inaugurated its ophthalmologic assistance project in Mongolia by sending its first survey mission in 2009, followed by a second mission in 2010 to hold seminars for optometrists and to give cataract surgery to local people who survived the Battle of Khalkhin Gol. Following the success of these missions, AMDA welcomed a request from the Mongolian Ophthalmologist Sociey and sent a third mission from 13th to 18th of June 2011, when AMDA held a seminar on the topic of "childhood amblyopia", which was open to all ophthalmologists throughout Mongolia and to children wearing glasses.
The fourth mission was sent from 23rd to 30th August 2011. There was a series of events and activities. First, AMDA invited those Mongolian ophthalmologists who had attended the seminar in June, and gave them an opportunity to provide diagnoses to children with amblyopia and hand out free glasses to those in need. As the Mongolian Ophthalmologist Society had observed that children with amblyopia often also have internal diseases, Dr. Suganami gave health check-ups to the children. Next, AMDA and their Mongolian counterpart visited the relevant governmental agencies to encourage them to set up a school for optometrists in Mongolia. AMDA also proceeded with a partnership agreement with the Mongolian Red Cross and with preparations for the foundation of the Japan-Mongolia Friendship Hospital. At the end of the mission, AMDA visited the Japanese Embassy and the Mongolian Ministry of Health and updated them on the project. Finally, the Mongolian Ministry of Health awarded AMDA with a memorial medal of the 90th anniversary of healthcare and welfare administration in Mongolia, commending its past medical assistance to Mongolia.
To receive health check-ups by Dr. Suganami, some parents traveled 1,000km from rural areas with their children for health consultations, thirteen children in total with ages ranging from 3 to 17 years receiving free glasses. Parents and children commented: "I can see better now! " , "Thank you so much for coming all the way from Japan".
Alongside medical assistance, 8 students from Okayama University and 4 students from the Health Science University of Mongolia had an opportunity to listen to stories of retired soldiers who fought in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol. Responding to a student's question "Why did you have courage to continue war?", a retired soldier answered: "I witnessed many friends being killed right in front of me, so I was motivated to fight by strong feelings of hatred. Nobody wants wars, but wars go on as long as feelings of hatred are generated in our hearts. We all wish peace for people, but we couldn't end wars. It is up to you, the younger generation, to bring peace to the world." Students held their breath listening to him telling the story with calm yet emotional tone of voice.
On August 26th, the AMDA Soul and Medicine Program (ASMP) was held at the Gandantegchenling Monastery, the largest temple in Mongolia. Until this year, the prayer had been for war victims of the Battle of Khalkhin Gol. This year, however, the memorial service was dedicated to the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake, responding to the request by the Monastery. The students from Okayama University mentioned that they were reassured that the various activities of AMDA have helped to strengthen the trust-building between Japanese and Mongolian citizens.