By Ethem Ceylan
An Istanbul-based aid group said on Thursday that it had performed 100,000 cataract surgeries in African countries over the past 10 years and was planning to start a new project to double that number.
The Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) said in a statement that the new project, which is titled “100,000 cataract surgeries in Africa”, will be introduced to the public with a meeting on Saturday.
The project, which was launched 10 years ago, was put in place in countries such as Sudan, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Mali, Chad, Uganda, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Niger, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Somalia.
The program served also a training project for doctors and healthcare professionals working in the region, the statement added.
The IHH worked with such institutions as the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), and the Turkish Health Ministry as well as the health ministries of Sudan and Niger, the World Health Organization and the Islamic Development Bank.
IHH head Bulent Yildirim said around 750,000 people had also received eye examinations.
“We are happy because we have reached our aim. On behalf of African people, I would especially like to thank the people of Turkey who supported us every single day,” Yildirim said.
Yildirim said the first surgeries took place in Togo, Benin, and Sudan. The project in Sudan had continued until 2012.
All equipment was then handed to Sudan’s Health Ministry. Sudanese doctors were thus able to use the latest technology to operate under the supervision of 65 volunteer Turkish doctors for five years, he said.
“Those doctors continue to serve at several hospitals in Sudan,” Yildirim added.
In 2014, an eye hospital was opened in Niger, Yildirim said, adding that 20 volunteer doctors had trained four Nigerian eye doctors in the region.
Cataracts are an eye condition that results in cloudy vision.