A recent study by The Lancet Global Health journal showed the number of blind people in the world is likely to triple by 2050 unless action to combat the causes is dramatically stepped up. This highlights the importance of increasing efforts to tackle preventable blindness, the biggest cause of which is cataract.
Sightsavers, the international development charity based in Sussex, continue fighting to change these figures and has just announced the “final push” in their Million Miracles campaign. A Million Miracles aims to raise funds for a million cataract treatments in developing countries by 2018.
Through the UK Aid Match scheme, donations to the Million Miracles appeal made between now and 9 January will be matched pound for pound by the UK government, doubling the impact of the UK public’s support.
Million Miracles was launched in 2014 to raise the money to pay for a million cataract operations for adults and children across Africa and Asia, so far it has raised funds to pay for more than 811,000 surgeries.
Although the Million Miracles project aims to help people across Asia and Africa the funding received through UK Aid Match will be used for projects in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Both are countries with high levels of poverty and a large number of people who need support to access life transforming cataract surgery.
Cataract is among the most easily treatable conditions in the UK and is associated with an ageing population. However, in many low and middle income countries, a lack of available treatment means cataract is set to be a growing problem.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said: “Around the world, millions of people are suffering from preventable visual impairments, but Sightsavers is providing the life changing help that’s needed, restoring the sight of people in some of the world’s poorest countries. The Million Miracles appeal will fund the surgery needed to give people back their sight, enabling them to build a bright future for themselves and their families.
“Every donation made by the generous British public to the Million Miracles appeal will be matched pound for pound by the UK Government, meaning we will double the difference Britons can make to those children and adults in Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are suffering from preventable blindness.”
Sightsavers Chief Executive Officer, Dr Caroline Harper, said: “I am very concerned to hear that the levels of avoidable blindness, which had been steadily declining, are now projected to increase significantly over the next few decades.
This means we must redouble our efforts, especially to treat cataracts which are the biggest cause of blindness in developing countries. Our partnership with the UK government will put fresh impetus into our ‘A Million Miracles’ campaign. We are over 80% of the way there so this is the final push to reach our target.”
This year’s Asian Media Awards returns to the Hilton Manchester Deansgate on Wednesday October 25 2017.
Previous recipients of an Asian Media Award include Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Waris Hussein, Art Malik, Mehdi Hasan, Nina Wadia and Anita Anand.
The University of Salford are premier sponsors and partners to the event include ITV, MediaCom, M.E.N, Press Association Training & Primesight.
The official Charity Partners for 2017 are Sightsavers.
The event is also supported by Manchester Metropolitan University, Routes Into Languages, AMT Lawyers, Hilton Manchester Deansgate, Tauheedul Education Trust, Supreme Dream Events, Payal and Cleartwo.