Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development and President of Sightsavers Middle East, has paid a glowing tribute to the Sightsavers International for curing millions of eye patients across the world.
In his opening speech at the UAE Conference on Saving Sight at the Emirates Palace today, Sheikh Nahyan said he personally supports the Sightsavers, and its President HRH Princess Alexandra, for the great efforts and commitment to encouraging countries, individuals and communities to engage in the international drive against blindness.
In 2012, he told the gathering in the presence of HRH Princess Alexandra, President of Sightsavers, and Sir John Major, former UK prime minister and Chairman of Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, that Sightsavers carried out more than 93 million treatments to protect against neglected tropical diseases, over 13 million eye examinations, over 280,000 operations to restore sight or prevent blindness and trained 222,000 volunteers.
Sheikh Nahyan said the UAE, under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and support of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, is building an integrated world-class healthcare system that caters to both UAE citizens and expatriate residents.
He added that UAE ophthalmologists were partnering with their overseas counterparts to identify impact of eye care on diabetes, noting that diabetic retinopathy is causing blindness to two million out of 39 million blind persons worldwide.
''The UAE is concerned with this and other diseases, though it is not affected directly,'' he said.
Within its commitment to support eye care initiatives, he said the Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation had established of the Zayed Regional Eye Care Centre (SZRECC) in Gambia.
HRH Princess Alexandra, President of Sightsavers, and Sir John Major, former UK prime minister and Chairman of Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, also addressed the conference.
Sir John Major said the Trust had supported Sightsavers's programmes with more than US$ 65 million.
The one-day event brought together the main partners in the region that support avoidable blindness programmes - particularly trachoma, river blindness and cataract. Sightsavers' work in the field of preventing avoidable blindness was also highlighted in attendance of more than 60 representatives of local and international charitable and humanitarian organisations.
Sightsavers International, is a group of organizations working with partners to eliminate avoidable blindness and promote equality of opportunity for disabled people in the developing world.
According to its data, there are 39 million blind people in the world; 80% of all blindness can be prevented or cured. In the six decades since its foundation, Sightsavers has: Treated over 206.8 million people for blinding and potentially blinding conditions, Carried out over 7.1 million operations to restore sight, Trained almost 0.5 million primary eye care workers and Carried out rehabilitation training to 91,000 people.