Patients at the Noor Dubai eye camp in Worabe, Ethiopia. The second-most populous nation in Africa with 82 million people has around 1.2 million blind people. Image Credit: Noor Dubai

Dubai: Over 25 million visually impaired individuals from all over Africa and Asia have benefited from the free treatment and preventive programmes conducted by Noor Dubai Foundation since its inception in 2008, said Dr Humaid Al Qutami, Chairman of the Board and Director General of the Dubai Health authority (DHA) addressing a special strategy workshop for the organisation on Tuesday.

Noor Dubai also helped over a 1,000 blue collar workers in labour camps and 1,000 students across UAE by attending to their impaired visual functions successfully.

The workshop was attended by Dr Mahmoud Fikri, the Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region of the World Health Organisation and Dr Manal Taryam, the CEO and Board member of Noor Dubai Foundation.

During his inaugural address for the event, Al Qutami said Noor Dubai has based its achievements on the values learnt from Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan when he established the UAE and mandated the support to all nations in need — irrespective of colour, race and religion.

“Noor Dubai Foundation continues its mission by following the values and objectives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Noor Dubai translated the humanitarian directions and passion of Shaikh Mohammad who launched the foundation to specialise in providing prevention of blindness programmes and projects and to reach out to millions globally through preventive and therapeutic programmes,” said Al Qutami.

He added: “We are also thankful to global organisations such as the WHO and the International Agency for the Prevention of blindness for supporting Noor Dubai,” he concluded.

Dr Taryam, said that on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of Noor Dubai, the foundation is working on devising a new strategy that is line with the developmental objectives of international organisations.

She said that when Noor Dubai was first launched as an initiative in 2008, it aimed to treat and prevent visual impairment through educational and treatment programmes. After it was officially launched as a foundation in 2010, it expanded its programme to treat more than 25 million people across 20 countries and 28 cities

She added that through its award winning outreach programme in the UAE, the mobile clinic succeeded in conducting vision screening on more than 7,000 individuals across various segments of society.

Dr Taryam also pointed that a major focus this year was on labour accommodations and through a successful partnership with the permanent committee of labour affairs in Dubai the foundation was able to screen over 1,000 labourers in 12 different sites. In collaboration with DHA, the foundation also launched a vision screening campaign targeting community schools across the UAE, where 1,000 students were screened.

On the international level, Noor Dubai Foundation continued its efforts in eliminating trachoma in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. Through a valuable partnership with the Carter Centre over the last three years, Noor Dubai Foundation had reached out to 18 million individuals threatened by trachoma and over the next four years, the anticipated outcome of the project is the elimination of blinding trachoma as a public health problem from Amhara by 2020. In 2016, Noor Dubai has completed four successful mobile eye camps in the following countries Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Niger and Senegal. Through its part of the outreach programs in Africa and Asia, Noor Dubai has screened 243,675 individuals and provided 24,531 surgeries and 56,047 glasses to those living in remote areas with minimal access to primary healthcare facilities.

The success that Noor Dubai achieved has qualified it to become a member of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, the global umbrella body of over 125 organisations with the unified mission to eliminate the main causes of preventable blindness and visual impairment.