Dubai Foundation has helped 23 million people with eyesight ailments since 2008
ABU DHABI // More than 23 million people in 21 countries in Africa and Asia have received treatment for eyesight-related ailments, including blindness, in the past eight years thanks to a Dubai charity.
For the Noor Dubai Foundation, which started in 2008, it cost US$4 (Dh14.50) to provide a patient with a pair of glasses and $8 to carry out cataract surgery. Over the years, the charity has helped people in Yemen, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Togo, Philippines, Niger, Chad, Mali, Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda, Somalia, Palestine, Iraq and Jordan.
This year, it launched programmes in Ethiopia, Pakistan, Morocco, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
A foundation spokesman said the programmes offered included various treatments, eye surgeries, medication and glasses, all provided free. There were also preventive programmes to raise awareness in local communities, antibiotic distribution and education of communities and education programmes for doctors, surgeons, nurses, social workers and teachers.
In Jehlum, Pakistan, in April, the foundation set up a camp that helped 3,010 people with eye problems, with 451 having surgery to remove cataracts. In May, a camp in Casablanca, Morocco, helped 4,200 people, with 450 undergoing cataract surgery.
Also this year, Noor Dubai, in collaboration with the Carter Centre, launched a three-year programme to eliminate trachoma in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. The campaign aims to help about 18 million people. Trachoma, a bacterial eye infection, is a leading cause of preventable blindness in many countries.
“Millions have hope of avoiding blindness in Amhara,” said Dr Manal Taryam, the foundation’s chief executive and board member.
The international not-for-profit organisation was established by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, to eliminate avoidable blindness and visual impairment.
Dr Taryam said the foundation’s teams often have to overcome logistical challenges to reach those in need.
“Every organisation goes through many challenges but as long as it remains focused on the end result, which is helping people in need and saving sight, then there is a way to overcome such challenges.”
A statement from the organisation said it was focused on the prevention of blindness only, which meant it tried to help people avoid losing their sight. The diseases that fall under this category are numerous and Noor Dubai focuses mainly on cataracts, trachoma and river blindness.
The foundation hopes to fulfil its Vision 2020 pledge of a world free from avoidable forms of blindness.
“There remain almost 285 million individuals who are visually impaired, an alarming fact, but one that presents an enormous challenge,” Dr Taryam said.
“Based on the latest estimates, a child goes blind every minute and an adult every five seconds. More than 90 per cent of the world’s visually impaired live in developing countries, while over 90 per cent of blind individuals live in areas with no access to quality eye care at an affordable price.”
Updated: July 13, 2015 04:00 AM