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UKZN eye staff dance to Jerusalema victory

Staff in the UKZN’s Discipline of Ophthalmology were part of a team that won in the district and provincial sections of a #JerusalemaDanceChallenge posted by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health (DOH).

The Discipline Ophthalmology had joined forces with staff from the McCord Provincial Eye Hospital in Durban and the NGO, Africa20Twenty, to take up the DOH challenge. Africa20Twenty is a non-profit mobile clinic based in KZN, which travels around doing free cataract surgery.

The combined dance effort involving the medical staff was done in support of a vision to eradicate cataract blindness, as well as to highlight the scourge of gender-based violence.

The #JerusalemaDanceChallenge involved medical health facilities all over KZN competing against each other in dance routines in support of a variety of health issues and projects. Videos were uploaded each day of the challenge on the DOH’s Facebook page, with winners going through to a provincial competition.

"Our dance was not just for the fun – we wanted to tell a story. We have a passion for the causes, which I think we displayed very well in our Jerusalema dance," said the head of UKZN’s Ophthalmology Discipline, Dr Linda Visser.

Visser said they got involved in the dance challenge to add their voices to those of so many others speaking out against gender-based violence (GBV). Ophthalmology staff handle a fair number of GBV incidents, as eyes are often seen as a ‘soft target’ in physical attacks.

Visser said they also wanted to make people aware that loss of sight is sometimes treatable, as is the case with cataracts, which can be removed and vision restored. She said the number of people on the waiting list for cataract procedures at the McCord Provincial Eye Hospital had been reducing, but the COVID-19 pandemic had set things back.

Thirdly, they also wanted to showcase McCord Hospital and the UKZN’s Discipline of Ophthalmology whose efforts were sometimes overlooked.

"We decided we needed to do something different to everyone else in our dance routine in order to stand out in the crowd and celebrate our diversity, hence the different styles of dancing seen in our video," said Visser.

A registrar in the discipline of Ophthalmology and the Managing Director of Africa20Twenty Dr Johann Snyman said the current backlog in cataract surgery was due to the coronavirus and ongoing renovations at the McCord Provincial Eye Hospital. "The plan is to use a mobile operating room as an additional theatre at McCords to alleviate the huge backlog. Once the backlog is reduced and another theatre is up and running, visits will be made to rural areas at weekends.

"Our main goal is to have a full team of support staff and doctors go out to rural areas in southern Africa to provide free, state-of-the-art cataract and glaucoma surgery. We need support to achieve that, so at present we are approaching potential sponsors," said Snyman.

"Africa20Twenty can't wait to get out there and make people see."

Africa20Twenty was established in 2019 following the need for cataract surgery in rural areas. Using a mobile operation room, cataract surgery can be done almost anywhere. To view how the room works, go to:

See the team’s winning Jerusalema dance at

Words by: Lihle Sosibo

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Nkosinathi Bhekani Dlamini [email protected]