More than 10,000 people a year will be visited, treated and equipped with aids that can improve the quality of their lives. After three years of work, the new surgical ophthalmological complex of the St. Joseph Hospital was inaugurated yesterday in Kitgum, Uganda. Uganda has 3 million visually impaired people, but currently there is only one ophthalmologist for every million people. Treatable diseases such as cataracts, trachoma or glaucoma thus lead to blindness since they are not treated, especially when you live in areas farthest from cities. Blindness that in 75% of cases would be avoidable according to IAPB, The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. In this context, Cbm Italia started the construction of the surgical eye center in October 2020, which will pay particular attention to the most vulnerable categories such as people with disabilities, women and children. The international cooperation project is supported by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation-Aics and is carried out in agreement with the Ugandan Ministry of Health: alongside Cbm Italia, project leader, the NGO Doctors with Africa Cuamm are also involved and partners Gnucoop, Uici and the district governments of Kitgum, Arua and Terego. The goal is to enhance St. Joseph’s infrastructure and human resources in the ophthalmology field but also to decentralize health services to reach the most remote areas and thus contribute to the reduction of avoidable blindness.
A new operating theater was built, built according to international standards of accessibility in the field of disability, which makes St Joseph’s a second-level ophthalmologist, i.e. capable of providing diagnostic care, specialist treatments and surgeries (cataracts, refractive errors, trauma). The patient recovery room has also been fixed. For patients further away, the project has renovated and equipped 4 other health centresbeyond provide for the organization of mobile surgical and non-surgical eye clinics in remote communities and refugee camps. Let us not forget that Uganda welcomes many refugees from South Sudan and Congo, especially in the northern part of the country.
«A great pride and a strong emotion fill me today in front of this dream that comes true», he says Maximum May, director of CBM Italy. “This new center is a piece that aims to break the vicious circle that binds poverty and disability here in Uganda as in other developing countries”. John Grandi, director of the Nairobi regional office of AICS competent for Uganda, underlines how «in Uganda the efforts of the Italian Cooperation have historically been aimed at improving access to health services. Our commitment will continue in the future with a new regional initiative between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda which involves the involvement of one of the Italian excellences in the health sector, namely the Global Health Center of the Tuscany Region. Today’s inauguration of a surgical eye plexus, made accessible and inclusive, is a symbol of a cooperation that strives to guarantee high-quality care in partner countries and does not want to leave anyone behind”.
The inauguration of the new complex took place in the presence of the director of CBM Italia Massimo Maggio; of the Archbishop of Gulu, HE Msgr. John Baptist Odama; Ugandan Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng; by the medical director of St. Joseph Hospital, Pamela Atim and by Jackie Kwesiga, country director of Cbm Uganda.
In the photo of the ribbon cutting, from the left, appear HE Mons. John Baptist Odama Archbishop of Gulu; Massimo Maggio, Director of CBM Italia Onlus; Jackie Kwesiga, Country Director CBM Uganda; the representative of the Ugandan Minister of Health.