Since 2018, Doctors Without Borders has organized a series of eye camps in Somalia with the aim of providing treatment and surgery for various eye conditions. Eye camps are held at local hospitals and clinics and include screening, surgery, treatment, health education, and counseling. Since the start of the implementation of the fields, the ophthalmology teams have cared for thousands of people living with eye diseases and, in many cases, have helped them to recover their sight.
From cataract surgery to eye disease treatment and eyeglass prescription, these camps offer an opportunity to get essential eye care.
“People with eye problems, as is the case with many other health problems in Somalia, often go untreated,” says Dr. Fuad, the organization’s medical coordinator in Somalia. “Common conditions like cataracts all too often lead to blindness if left untreated. Losing your sight often leads to loss of livelihoods, and this can be devastating, especially in a country affected by conflict and poverty. That is why this relatively simple surgery can have a great impact on the lives of patients, since it improves their chances of living a dignified and healthy life”.
What activities do they do in these camps?
Evaluation: “There is a lot of organization and preparation work for each camp,” explains Dr. Fuad, “especially since we have to manage the camps remotely and work with collaborators for security reasons. In the weeks leading up to a camp, we spread the word that it’s going to be done, and in the days leading up, we often run a variety of clinics where people are assessed to determine if they need surgery, glasses, further examination, or medical treatment”.
Screening and testing: Through this work, we are able to reach older men and women, a group of people that we often struggle to treat. In these areas of Somalia, when we reach that group, possibilities open up for our work. It encourages people to accept us and what we do, so that we can then reach out to other people.
Surgery: “By the day the surgeons arrive, everything is ready,” says Dr. Fuad. “Cataract surgery is performed under local anesthesia and is a relatively short procedure, lasting five to 10 minutes.” On average, we treat around 4,000 people during each camp.
School-age glasses: Most school-age girls and boys in Somalia have never had an eye exam. At an eye camp we run in the Hudur region, more than 4,000 school-age boys and girls underwent eye examinations. Those who needed glasses were provided with prescription glasses and standard plastic frames, all paid for by our organization. “Many girls and boys have trouble seeing at school,” explains Dr. Fuad. “But after going to the camp, they are given glasses, and they improve their performance, their learning capacity, their quality of life and their options for the future. The standard plastic mounts we provide are simple and inexpensive, but like so many other things on this project, they are completely life changing.”
One last step: “What we do here is not complicated, not even surgery,” says Dr. Fuad. “But it is completely transformative for the people treated. Overnight, they can regain their vision and their independence. The results are immediate and tangible. One man we operated on had been blind for five years, but after treatment he was able to see again”.
For inquiries on this topic, contact:
Dolores Sosa (Doctors Without Borders): email@example.com – +54 9 11 3872-3609