Turkey to expand cataract surgeries in Africa

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Cataract surgeries project to be expanded in scope to include fight against fistula

Turkey is planning to expand its cataract surgery project in Africa to fighting fistula, Ministry of Health Undersecretary Professor Eyup Gumus said.

Turkey has been leading a project that aims at conducting 1.5 million cataract surgeries in Africa in five years.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency on Tuesday, Gumus said the Ministry of Health, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and a project named Fighting Avoidable Blindness had coordinately formed an initiative called “African Health”.

The initiative will facilitate the project for helping 1.5 million people undergo the cataract surgery in Africa, including profiling cataract patients in the continent and hospitals where surgeries can be performed. It will also provide additional services in coordination with other countries and non-governmental organizations.

Gumus explained that Fighting Avoidable Blindness was in its second phase. He recalled how the IDB President Bandar Hajjar urged “other member countries to follow the example of Turkey” at the IDB’s 43rd General Assembly held in Tunisia on April 1, 2018.

He said Turkey’s “one million cataract surgeries” project motivated other countries to join the fight against avoidable blindness, which has thankfully resulted in a rise in the funds of the project from $30 million to $250 million.

The project not only arranges for the operations but also distributes much-needed glasses to children in need, in addition to organizing training and awareness-creating programs.

 

Fistula treatment

There are now plans to expand the scope of the project to treat women with fistula in Africa.

“We can conduct surgeries other than the one for cataracts; over two million women in Africa are struggling to live with fistula. We may work toward providing them with the necessary surgeries,” Gumus added.

Obstetric fistula is caused by a long and obstructed labor without convenient access to medical service, which will result in having an opening between the birth canal and the bladder, or the rectum, which will cause inability to control urine or feces.

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