Istanbul, Turkey, 19 March 2018 – In preparation for the launch of the 2nd Generation (phase) of the Alliance to Fight Avoidable Blindness (AFAB), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development, ISFD, hosted a Coordination Meeting in the city of Istanbul from 19-20th March, 2018. The official launching of AFAB 2nd Generation is to take place on the side-lines of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the IsDB Group in Tunis, Tunisia, 1st - 5th April, 2018.

The Hon. Undersecretary of Health of the Republic of Turkey, H.E. Prof. Dr. Eyup Gumus delivered a keynote speech at the opening of the AFAB Coordination Meeting in Istanbul. 32 different international, governmental, and non-governmental organizations participated, with many elite ophthalmologists from the Republic of Turkey in attendance.

In his speech, H.E. Prof. Eyup Gumus expressed strong support for the 2nd Generation of the Alliance to Fight Avoidable Blindness (AFAB) in 12 African countries, all members of the Islamic Development Bank Group; Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Mali, Mozambique, Niger and Togo.

According to H.E. Prof. Eyup Gumus, the Republic of Turkey is committed to participating in AFAB 2nd Generation by performing one million cataract operations within the next five years which fall under the IsDB’s – Turkey “Reverse Linkage Initiative”, a program that focuses on the sharing of knowledge and experiences. An official announcement of this generous support is expected to be made by H.E. Prof. Eyup Gumus at the upcoming 43rd Annual Meeting of the IsDB Group in Tunisia.

Another keynote speaker at the Coordination Meeting was Dr. Waleed Al Wohaib, Director General of ISFD, who commented on why the 2nd Generation of AFAB has been set in motion, saying: “About 33 million people in Africa suffer from visual impairment while nearly 75% of these cases can be prevented or treated, especially those related to cataract.”

Elsewhere in his speech, Dr. Walid Al Wohaib referred to AFAB as a great success in making South-South cooperation a reality, which as a result of its 1st Generation has provided eye screening and necessary eye treatment to more than 244,000 people, training doctors and supplying medical equipment in eight African countries, namely Benin, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Guinea, Mali and Niger.

“During the 1st Generation of the Alliance, ISFD and its partners managed to restore eyesight to more than 49,000 blind people from different age groups,” explained ISFD Director General, Dr. Walid Al Wohaib.

He then thanked the partners from the 1st Generation of the Alliance to Fight Avoidable Blindness (AFAB), as well as the government and nation of Turkey for hosting the AFAB 2nd Generation Coordination Meeting in Istanbul and invited the participants to join hands for the realization of the goals of this program.

According to the IsDB Group’s ISFD Director General, the 2nd Generation of AFAB also aims to boost capacity development measures in eye care and eye surgery by establishing health centers and providing scholarships to train new doctors and nurses in the recipient countries. The ISFD’s Director General also stated that he is expecting the set objectives of the AFAB 2nd Generation (2018-2022) will be increased ten times, considering the recent announcements made by H.E. Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health-Turkey and Dr.Abdullah Smit of Direct Aid, from the State of Kuwait, during the opening ceremony. Many other announcements are expected to follow from partners in: Azerbaijan, Austria, BADEA, Brazil, Egypt, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Libya, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE.