Islamic Development Bank fruitfully cements alliance to fight avoidable blindness in Djibouti

DJIBOUTI – The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Alliance to Fight Avoidable Blindness (AFAB), and the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD) have successfully executed cataract surgery campaigns in the city of Djibouti and its surrounding rural localities.

This has been accomplished in their second phase of efforts to fight avoidable blindness which has seen 11,709 patients receive vision screening with 1,032 cataract treatment surgeries conducted, in addition to providing post-surgical monitoring and visits to patients in Djibouti.

“My sincere thanks to the Islamic Development Bank and the Azerbaijan International Development Agency (AIDA), without whom these campaigns would not have taken place,” said Mr. Mohamed Warsama Dirieh, Minister of Health, Djibouti.

IsDB President, Dr. Bandar Hajjar, indicated that IsDB and ISFD plan to continue to provide free treatments to the poor and promote surgical technological advancement on patients suffering from visual impairment.

The Islamic Development Bank formulated and launched its regional initiative ”the Alliance to Fight Avoidable Blindness” in 2008 to provide comprehensive, accessible and sustainable eye care services in eight IsDB member countries.

The First Generation (2008 – 2015), provided eye care to more than 244,000 people, restored sight to more than 49,000 blind people, executed capacity building for more than 177 doctors and technicians and provided special medical equipment needed to combat eye diseases in beneficiary countries.

The alliance started with a five-year program developed to reduce the prevalence of blindness due to cataract and to improve access to, and quality of, eye health care in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Guinea, Mali and Niger.

These are countries characterized by cataract surgical rates among the lowest in the World, insufficient number of ophthalmologists and a significant backlog of patients suffering from cataracts.

Islamic Development Bank, the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development and 32 technical and financial partners then formulated the Second Generation of the Alliance (2019-2023) which targets to;

Realize 1,500,000 cataracts surgical operations, develop of 4 national intervention programs for the correction of refraction and carry out examinations for the detection of ocular refractive errors for the benefit of 10 million schoolchildren and supplies of correction glasses when necessary.

Additionally, the program will develop capacities for 6 glaucoma treatment centers in member countries, develop capacities of at least 3 regional training centers and enhance capacities of 90 eye care specialists.

The Second Generation of the Alliance is set to benefit 13 member countries of the Islamic Development Bank i.e. Burkina Faso, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Somalia, and Togo at an estimated cost of US $ 30 million.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are approximately 285 million visually impaired people worldwide, out of which 39 million are blind and 246 million have low vision.

Globally, uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of moderate and severe visual impairment, while cataract remains the leading cause of blindness in middle- and low-income countries.

Other major causes of visual impairment are glaucoma, age related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, corneal capacity, childhood blindness and trachoma.

As a result, 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured. The majority of visually impaired people (90%) live-in low-income countries, 9.2% (about 26.3 million) in Africa.

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