Charity Groups Help Cameroon's Most Vulnerable Cataract Patients

Charity Groups Help Cameroon's Most Vulnerable Cataract Patients

Various foundations have just donated a $2 million loan to help Cameroon's eye care system. Specifically, this money will help increase the number of cataract surgeries the country can perform annually.

All of the money from this loan goes straight to the Magrabi ICO Cameroon Eye Institute (MICEI). The money given to the MICEI is in the form of a Development Impact Bond, which is officially called the Cameroon Cataract Development Impact Bond.

The two main organizations financing this loan include the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Netri Foundation. The Fred Hollows Foundation, Sightsavers, and the Conrad N Hilton Foundation will repay investors on this loan.

With this $2 million donation, Cameroon health officials estimate that they can provide at least 18,000 cataract surgeries in the next five years. A portion of this donation will also go to helping train local ophthalmologists and improving Cameroon's eye care system.

Akef el-Maghraby, the chair of the Magrabi Hospital Group, said he hopes this donation will help people in need of cataract surgery who don't have the money to afford an operation. He also has huge hopes for creating more professional eye hospitals in Central Africa using MICEI's infrastructure.

Current estimates show that there are 48,000 new cataract cases in Cameroon each year. Also, there's a backlog of 115,000 patients in need of cataract surgery. Unfortunately, Cameroon's eye doctors are only able to perform about 15,000 cataract surgeries each year.

There are only three trained ophthalmologists for every one million people in Cameroon. Just for perspective, the global average is 31 eye doctors for every million people.

Caroline Harper, CEO of Sightsavers, believes the new form of loan used in this project will improve donations to other poor and middle-income nations around the world. Harper said, "We are keen to learn how such schemes can be scaled up and sustained in the long run as they have the potential to…strengthen…healthcare infrastructure and the training of ophthalmic staff."

The Magrabi ICO Cameroon Eye Institute is the first of the Africa Eye Foundation's (AEF) major projects dedicated to improving the health of Central and Sub-Saharan Africa. The two organizations that helped found the AEF include the Al Noor – Magrabi Foundation in Egypt and the Afin Que Chaque Vie Compte in Switzerland.

The MICEI has a website with a ton of information on the non-profit's services, employment, and contact information both in both French and English. MICEI's main headquarters is in the capital city of Yaoundé.

Situated in Central Africa, Cameroon is bordered by the countries Nigeria, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic. This rather small country is often called "Africa in Miniature" because it has an interesting blend of French and English speakers as well as Muslim and Christian communities. The total population in Cameroon is currently 24 million.

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