An estimated 45 million people in the world are blind; and 47.9% of worldwide blindness is due to Cataracts. Cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye which can occur with aging, exposure to UV radiation, chemicals, and some systemic diseases. 90% of worldwide blindness is in developing countries with poor access to vision care. The prevalence of cataracts in US adults aged 45-54 and 55-64 is 2.7% and 9.3% respectively. The Global Initiative, Vision 2020 describes goals and priorities to be adopted by individuals, non-profit organizations, WHO, government agencies, and ministries of health working in the field of blindness prevention aimed at reducing the current projection of 75 million blind by the year 2020 to 25 million.
Mezu International Foundation (MIF) conducts humanitarian projects in underserved areas, including Imo State, South-Eastern Nigeria, where MIF has strong local ties. University of Wisconsin (UW) Shapiro Program and UW Global Health institute in collaboration with MIF has supported medical students participating in MIF’s medical outreach, conducting health research that helps effectively target MIF’s resources to the community’s needs. In 2014, their research showed a high prevalence of cataracts (57%) in adult working population in the rural community aged 40-64 contributing to significant unemployment and decreased quality of life. In 2015, MIF and the Shapiro program investigated risk factors for the high prevalence of cataracts in this community. Poor knowledge of risk factors and lack of finances to afford cataract surgery were found significant contributors to cataract prevalence. MIF regularly does cataract education during the medical mission.
In 2016, Mezu International Foundation provided cataract surgeries at our MIF annual summer medical mission outreach. MIF is grateful to our partners in our Vision to prevent blindness, “Combat Blindness International” who donated intraocular lenses and cataract surgical supplies for our medical mission www.combatblindness.org. In the July 2016 medical outreach in Emekuku, Imo State, Nigeria, MIF successfully performed ten (10) cataract surgeries, a service provided free to our patients saving them as much as $500 equivalent in surgery costs and medications. After surgery, patients received post-op care for the ensuing weeks at our newly established MIF community medical center, which provides medical care in between medical missions. Combat Blindness Inc. is a pioneer in the fight to end preventable blindness worldwide by providing cataract surgeries in rural areas around the globe where people cannot afford them. Combat Blindness and Aurolab, India have established a partnership with Mezu International Foundation to extend the reach of their humanitarian work to the under-served in Nigeria.
MIF medical outreach has now completed its transition from a medical mission model to an onsite full service medical clinic to provide subsidized medical services, promote preventive health care and education to the indigenes, as well as provide continuity of care in between our free summer medical missions. During our medical missions, we identify and address urgent health care needs using research methods, so as to implement sustainable local solutions to reduce barriers healthcare in the community.
MIF is grateful to all our vision partners: Combat Blindness, VSP, Alcon, Allergan, and Brother Brother Foundation for their donation of medications and surgical supplies for our MIF medical missions, to bring back the gift of sight to the rural Nigerian community, which will improve their quality of life and health in the community.
To JOIN our fight against global blindness as partner, OR TO VOLUNTEER as a medical or non-medical healthcare professional for our future outreach opportunities, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.