IAPB fights blindness and visual impairment in the African country in close collaboration with eye clinics, ASL (Italian local health authorities) and the Tuscany Region. Our missions have also continued this year, with positive results.
EYES POINTED ON BURKINA FASO
We fight blindness and visual impairment in Burkina Faso, a West African country, considered the poorest state in the world. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness – IAPB Italy onlus, thanks to its Tuscan regional committee, has been commissioned by the Regional Government of Tuscany to implement an eye support project for the African state. In this context, the missions of ophthalmologists and nurses have continued also in 2018, often involving the training of local staff (the same activity also takes place in Italy); the first mission was carried out in 2009.
We would also like to inform you that an IAPB Tuscany mission, held from 8th to 12th April 2016, brought into operation an ophthalmology operating theatre in the capital city of the country, Ouagadougou; thanks to the new equipment, it is probably today one of the best equipped operating facilities in sub-Saharan Africa.
There is constant contact between IAPB Tuscany and the Camillian fathers of Burkina Faso. For example, on 7th May 2015 an agreement was signed to intensify relations with the eye health professionals operating in the country.
THE ACTION LINE
The philosophy is the same that animated Vision 2020, a program to eliminate preventable blindness in the world, that was then merged into the WHO Action Plan. Thanks to the efforts of IAPB Tuscany it was possible, among other things, to renovate an ophthalmic operating theatre in Léo (a city with about 350,000 inhabitants) and acquire the necessary surgical equipment. It is estimated that 150,000 people living in Burkina Faso suffer from blindness caused by cataracts and could recover their sight with a simple surgical procedure
However, the objective is not to guarantee ongoing aid, but to ensure that local staff learn how to work independently, by carrying out necessary eye care. It is precisely in this spirit that nurses have been, and are still being trained in ophthalmology: these professional figures are fundamental in Africa because there is often a shortage of eye specialists, who conversely frequently leave the continent to work abroad.
CHECK UPS IN SOUTH BURKINA
Screenings are essential, and are carried out,in the province of Léo (in south Burkina Faso). Among the partners of the project, it’s important to mention the eye clinics of Florence, Pisa and Siena, the Meyer Pediatric Hospital as well as the operative Units of Ophthalmology of the ASL of the Tuscan capital, of Pistoia, Lucca, Prato and Massa Carrara. The project clearly shows the aim of strengthening the relations and synergies with the WHO and the Burkina Faso Ministry of Health.
On 2nd February 2013 a team of specialists from the University of Siena and the ASL of the same city, returned from Burkina Faso. Overall, 80 surgical interventions were performed in that phase, and 270 people were visited. Furthermore, on 28th January 2013, a technician arrived in Ouagadougou to set up a surgical microscope at the Hôpital Saint Camille. Since1st February of the same year, a new ophthalmic operating room has been operative in the same health facility, with which a fruitful collaboration has been started. We have also been working on the development of a new eye centre in the city of Léo.
FACTS AND PROJECTS
In June 2016, an IAPB Tuscany mission was carried out at the Saint Camille Hospital in Ouagadougou. The work of the staff of the University of Florence eye clinic tirelessly continues and have another two missions planned for the autumn of 2016. Among other things, interventions on the vitreous body (its removal and substitution with a buffering medium: vitrectomia) have been performed. All initiatives are carried out in collaboration with the Tuscany region.
Trachoma and onchocerciasis (river blindness) are among the diseases we are trying to eradicate, especially in Africa. Childhood blindness is also a scourge that needs to be faced. In many cases, a simple pair of glasses is enough to allow children to read and go to school. In fact, in addition to fighting blindness, our missions also aim to visual impairment. This activity is important, especially in the midst of all of Africa’s needs, where even just an eye careproject can mark the difference between a life spent in darkness and one, so to speak, in full daylight.
(Photo credits: kind granting of Andrea Gianfortuna per IAPB Toscana – copyright of the author – Photogallery)