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Project of the week

Cataract surgeries started in Somalia in cooperation with WHO
IHH and World Health Organization have begun to offer free cataract surgeries in Somalia.
Africa, Somalia 28.06.2012

The first group of 2,000 cataract surgeries IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation and World Health Organization (WHO) decided to carry out in Somalia with an agreement they made in April have been completed. Turkish medical teams along with local doctors performed the first group of cataract surgeries in Somaliland Hargaise. 

IHH, which has so far sponsored 61,750 cataract surgeries across Africa, 10,000 of which were in Somalia, will sponsor a total of 2,000 cataract surgeries in Somalia as part of its “Africa Cataract Campaign” with WHO. According to the agreement between the IHH and WHO, 1,000 of the surgeries will be performed in Somaliland, 600 in Puntland and 400 in Mogadishu. Turkish medical teams will take part in the surgeries.

Visiting the hospital where cataract surgeries are performed, officials from the Somali Health Ministry have voiced their content over the coming of Turkish medical teams to the region. The ministry officials requested Turkish medics give training to the ophthalmologists in the region about the use of new technologies in medicine. Our medical teams performed around 100 cataract surgeries during the short time they stayed in Somalia. The surgeries are now performed by local medical teams.

Abdul Hannan Chowdhury, a WHO expert on prevention of blindness, has voiced his content over their cooperation with the IHH.

“We are very pleased with this partnership with the IHH which we had for the first time. Thanks to the IHH’s field experience, we would like to carry out similar projects in many parts of Africa. We can cooperate with the IHH also for the offering of training to eye surgeons in Africa by Turkish doctors,” he said.

For his part, IHH official İhsan Özyürek, responsible for the cataract campaign, said: “IHH sponsored 10,000 cataract surgeries in Somalia earlier along with the Zamzam Foundation here. Now, we plan to sponsor 2,000 surgeries in cooperation with WHO. This is the first time that we make such cooperation with WHO. If we become successful, we can make similar projects in other regions of Africa. Our goal is both to perform surgeries and give training to the local doctors about the use of new technologies in medicine, hence reduce the number of cases of blindness in the region.”

Cataract is one of the most widespread diseases in Somalia which is stricken by constant chaos, clash and famine. There are widespread cases of blindness in the country due to malnutrition and heavy exposure to sunlight. Most of the people in the country who live under difficult circumstances either do not have any access to eye doctors or they are unable to afford a cataract surgery. Thanks to the joint project of the IHH and WHO, 2,000 cataract patients will regain their vision for free.

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