(Dubai, 6 September 2021) Noor Dubai Foundation and The Fred Hollows Foundation have signed a strategic partnership agreement to reduce avoidable blindness for thousands of children and adults in Barishal, Bangladesh.
The partnership is a five-year Comprehensive Eye Care Project that focuses on treating people with visual impairment caused by diabetic retinopathy and refractive error, improving access to eye care services and promoting eye health awareness.
The programme also aims to promote gender equality through establishing 2 women-led eye care enterprises, which will offer basic eye care services to local community members especially Refractive Error and generate income for the women. This will address visual impairment in the community and poverty among women.
Commenting on the partnership, Dr. Manal Taryam, CEO of Noor Dubai Foundation, said, “we are keen to continue collaborating with The Fred Hollows Foundation to strengthen development efforts especially to reduce the burden of those at risk of going blind and to help alleviate their suffering through early intervention”.
The Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Ian Wishart said, “The partnership demonstrates a shared commitment to eliminating avoidable blindness around the world. Right now, 4 out of 5 people who are blind don’t need to be. They are blind because of lack of access to medical services and poverty”.
In Bangladesh, almost 1.3 million children live with low vision due to refractive errors, the second largest cause of visual impairment in Bangladesh. While more than 10 million people live with diabetes and every one of them is at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to irreversible blindness.
“The projected health and economic return of this partnership will benefit a population of 5 million individuals in the long-term. I commend the efforts of both foundations for their continuous efforts in supporting those in need and reinforcing a culture of giving and philanthropy worldwide,” Dr. Taryam said.
The long-term impact of the partnership will include strengthening the national health system in Barishal through implementing a comprehensive, integrated and sustainable approach. It will also help children with visual impairment reach their full educational potential.
“That’s why The Fred Hollows Foundation is partnering with Noor Dubai by launching a sustainable five-year partnership to better manage diabetic retinopathy and prevent refractive error in Barishal, Bangladesh,” Mr. Wishart said.
It is estimated that 25,000 children and 50,000 adults will benefit from accessing eye care services. The project aims to raise awareness and education for nearly 4 million people in Barishal.
This is the second collaboration between Noor Dubai Foundation and The Fred Hollows Foundation. In 2018, Noor Dubai Foundation answered the call of The Fred Hollows Foundation to help restore sight to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
Both of the foundations have taken a number of precautionary and proactive contingency measures during the COVID19 outbreak.
Dr. Taryam pointed out that both foundations are committed to implementing the international standards that achieve safe and sustainable eye healthcare services during and beyond COVID-19 while continuing to respond to emergency needs.
“The big lesson of the pandemic should be the need to increase investment in global health and national health systems. By playing a role in helping communities to respond to COVID-19, we will be strengthening health systems that can help ensure that pandemics like these can be better managed in future. A better health service will be better for eye health as well,” Mr. Wishart added.
For example, Noor Dubai Foundation applied a number of social behaviour measures during the implementation of its medical activities in Nigeria. Such measures included monitoring patient numbers to ensure social distancing can be maintained in order to protect patients and health staff.
The Fred Hollows Foundation has sourced and supplied personal protective equipment kits to frontline health workers who have been working to fight COVID19 and supported community education campaigns around hygiene practices.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, set up Noor Dubai as an initiative in 2008 with the vision for a world free from all preventable forms of blindness. The Fred Hollows Foundation established a regional office at International Humanitarian City in Dubai in 2017.