The Noor Dubai Foundation has just successfully completed its Eye Camp in Ouagadougou – Burkina Fasso which ran from 17th to 23rd July 2011. The eye camp, conveniently located in the capital of Burkino Faso, was in collaboration with Dubai Islamic Foundation and Al Basar International.
The screening program for Patients began on the 17th of July when over 2000 patients were examined for visual impairment and 220 were admitted to the camp for sight saving surgery. Surgery started on the 18th of July and by midday the number of surgeries had increased to 320, most patients were treated for Cataract extraction and intraocular lens implantation. The camp was attended by patients from all over Burkina Faso.
His Excellency Mr. Qadhi Al Murooshid, chairman of The Noor Dubai Foundation and Director General of the Dubai Health Authority, stated that Burkina Faso, which has a population of over 15.5 million, is one of the poorest countries in the world. Burkina Faso lacks the financial support required to properly treat blindness and other diseases. Although charitable organizations have been providing active interventions into the villages of Burkina Faso to treat the issue of Cataract, trachoma and onchocerciasis (AKA River Blindness), blindness prevention remains a major challenge to the people of Burkina.
The 7 day series of intensive operations to cure blindness in people suffering from cataracts and other causes of reversible blindness in Burkina Faso was conducted in collaboration with international partners and supported by the Dubai Islamic Bank Foundation. The success of the camp was achieved through the great efforts of the Noor Dubai team.
Patients received surgical treatment from the first day, said Dr. Manal Taryam CEO of Noor Dubai Foundation. Successful surgeries were conducted on patients aged between 10 to 97 years. Most patients suffered from cataract, the leading cause for reversible blindness in Burkina Faso.
The medical team consisted of 10 ophthalmology specialists and 3 administrators who were joined by volunteers from the Ouagadougou Orphanage for Muslim children. The 7 day camp screened 5000 patients, performed 425 surgeries, and distributed over 1000 reading glasses. 3 ophthalmologists will return to Burkina Faso to examine the postoperative cases on the 18 of August.
According to the ministry of health in Burkina Faso there are 200,000 blind people in this landlocked nation of more than 15.5 million people and only 20 registered eye specialists. About 65 percent of all blind people in Burkina Faso lost their sight as a result of cataracts. A further 15 percent suffer from trachoma, a contagious disease which results in the inflammation of the conjunctiva and cornea. These subsequently become obscured by scar tissue that obscures vision.
Burkina Faso has one of the highest rates of blindness in Africa. The health ministry estimates that over 1.5 percent of the population is suffering from some degree of visual impairment, compared to an average of 1.2 percent for all countries south of the Sahara. In a collaborative effort, colleagues from the ministry of health in Burkina Faso joined the Noor Dubai team at the camp and assisted surgeons performing cataract extraction procedures.
A ministry official said that over the past 30 years, the government has conducted a successful campaign to eradicate river blindness or onchocerciasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms that are transmitted by small black flies which live near open water. While cases still persist, particularly where people depend on rivers and streams for their drinking water, it is no longer considered to be a major public health concern. Today, it is cataract which causes the high rates of blindness and visual impairment in Burkina Faso, partly due to the metabolic effect of vitamin deficiency.
Dr. Manal Taryam, who accompanied the Noor Dubai team during its camp activities in Ouagadougou, said the team faced many challenges including difficulties in the establishment of an easily accessible camp and severe weather conditions. Furthermore, 7 members of the medical team tested positive for Malaria and were treated immediately.
About Noor Dubai
To date, Noor Dubai has restored the vision of more than 5.8 million people in Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen, Chad, Niger, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Mali, Uganda, Palestine, Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. This non-governmental, non-profit organization has performed cataract surgeries for more than 10,000 individuals, and provided medication and corrective eyewear to more than 90,000 people through eye camps.
In 2008 and 2009 Noor Dubai funded the fight against river blindness and other causes of preventable vision loss in Africa, and has so far reached out to more than 5 million individuals in Ethiopia, Mali, Cameroon and Uganda.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, founded the Noor Dubai initiative in September 2008 with the aim of healing more than one million men, women and children around the world in one year. In October 2010, His Highness issued a decree to establish the Noor Dubai Foundation turning the initiative into an independent foundation to continue the noble cause and the fight against avoidable and treatable forms of blindness.
Noor Dubai and partners have also worked in 2009 to provide patients with medical treatment, including trachoma surgeries, spectacles and training for primary health care workers, teachers and volunteer leaders from women’s groups. Additionally, nurses from district-level health centers have been trained to provide primary eye care.
Noor Dubai has worked with Al Basar International, a Saudi-based NGO focused on blindness prevention. Together, they have led a series of highly successful free cataract camps focused on screening, diagnostics and corrective treatment across South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.