Each year dozens of people in Africa lose their vision in cataract that is caused by hot temperatures, eating habits and climatic conditions. Combined with inadequacy of eye doctors, the problem gets worse and many patients have to live in the darkness.
It is estimated that about 5 million people in Africa have lost their vision because of cataract and cannot undergo surgery due to economic hardships.
The IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation launched cataract surgeries in Africa, the poorest continent in the world, three years ago to bring light to cataract victims.
In Africa even young children can lose their vision because of unfavorable climate conditions.
929 undergo examination in Somalia
The IHH health team examined 1,700 patients in the city of Hargeisa. The 929 of them underwent cataract surgery and got back their vision. The number of people that underwent surgery in Somalia reached 6,851.
Somalia, the poorest country in Africa, has attracted attention of the international community with the ongoing civil war and piracy. Thousands of children in Somalia, which has a population of nine million, die from diseases caused by undernourishment. Poverty is widespread and Somali people are not receiving adequate education and health services. National schools and hospitals are insufficient and are in a very bad condition. The number of doctors is limited. Declared by the United Nations as a crisis region, Somalia is struggling to survive on external aid.
100 liras can change a life
IHH President Bülent Yıldırım recalled that 34,749 people had so far undergone cataract surgeries as part of the campaign initiated three years ago and noted the number would reach 50,000 by the end of 2010 and 100,000 by late 2012. “Our cataract campaign in Africa started in 2007. The initial objective is to perform 100,000 surgeries. We are drawing nearer to this objective with donations from the benevolent people of Turkey. A cataract patient undergoes surgery and gets back his/her vision in an operation financed by 100 TRY donation. We are currently performing cataract surgeries in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Ghana, Benin, Togo and Chad. We take volunteer Turkish doctors and nurses to the countries where surgeries are performed. These doctors and nurses are given one month leave of absence by the Turkish Health Ministry. We need more volunteer eye doctors and nurses. You cannot achieve much with 100 TRY in Turkey, but with the same amount you can help a cataract patient gets back his/her vision and change a life in Africa,” he added.