“Eye problems, like many other health issues in Somalia, often go untreated,” says Dr Fuad, MSF medical coordinator for Somalia.
“Common conditions such as cataracts all too often lead to blindness if left untreated. Losing one’s sight – which often leads to losing one’s livelihood – can be devastating, especially in a country where many people face a daily struggle to survive due to internal conflict and chronic poverty. Which is why this relatively simple surgery has a huge impact on patients’ lives, improving their chances of living a dignified and healthy life.”
The eye camps are held at local hospitals and clinics and include screening, surgery, treatment, health education and counselling. Since commencing the camps, the teams of eye specialists have reached thousands of people living with eye diseases, in many cases helping them to regain their sight.
“There is a lot of organisation and preparation for each camp,” says Dr Fuad “especially as we have to manage the camps remotely and work with local partners due to security reasons. In the weeks before a camp, we will spread the word that an eye camp is going to occur and, in the days leading up to it, will hold a range of clinics where people are screened to ascertain if they need surgery, glasses, further examination or medical treatment.”