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In This Issue

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What is PBU?

The Prevention of Blindness Union (PBU) is an International union of Nongovernmental Development Organizations working in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) and Africa. It has the following reputable international NGOs and bodies as members:

  • IMPACT-EMR Saudi Arabia
  • AlBasar International Foundation Saudi Arabia
  • Al Noor Foundation Egypt
  • Nadi AlBassar Tunisia
  • CHEF International Pakistan
  • Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND)
  • Islamic Development Bank,(Ex-Officio member)
  • Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology - MEACO
  • WHO EMR. (Ex–Officio member)

The union is under leadership of HRH Prince Abdulaziz Ahmad Al Saud.

The Vision of PBU is to facilitate the provision of comprehensive eye care to all segments of the society based on the principles of equity and justice.

The Mission of the union is to support, coordinate, collaborate and advocate activities in the field of comprehensive eye care (promotion, preventive, curative and rehabilitation) with all stakeholders (such as Governments, Non-Governmental Development Organizations (NGDO), regional and international organizations, professional bodies and institutions) in the EMR and Africa.

For more information on PBU please visit: www.pbunion.org

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Member countries request inclusion of prevention of blindness as a priority in WHO Work Plan 2014-19

WHO Logo At the World Health Assembly Session on WHO reform (24 May 2012, Geneva) during which the WHO General Program of Work (GPW) for the period 2014-19 was discussed some member countries made intervention requesting WHO to include eye health and prevention of blindness as one of the priority areas of work in its next work plan called the GPW which is currently being developed.

Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) strongly requested the inclusion of eye health and blindness in the new WHO GPW for the period 2014-19.

EMR has been a prime mover and main vanguard for championing regional and global policies for the success of eye health and prevention of blindness. Saudi Arabia had always led in advocating prevention of blindness and visual impairment in previous meetings of World Health Assembly.

Earlier on 22 May 2012 during a session on Non communicable disease (NCD), three countries (Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and the Holy See (Vatican)) all spoke about the importance of the blindness and visual impairment agenda.

WHA discussed progress of action plan for prevention of blindness

WHO Logo The World Health Assembly (WHA) held in Geneva in May 2012, discussed the progress report on the implementation of the Action Plan for the Prevention of Blindness and Visual Impairment (2009-13) and call for a new Action Plan for 2014-2019. Fifteen WHO Member States (Chile, India, Iraq, United States of America, Saudi Arabia, China, Russian Federation, Australia, Paraguay, Thailand, Ethiopia, Bahamas, Mauritania and Mexico) all spoke of the importance of focusing on avoidable blindness and most of them outlined what they had done in-country to support the 2009-13 Action Plan Objectives. Six countries specifically mentioned their positive support for the development of the new plan (India, USA, Australia, Ethiopia and Mexico and Saudi Arabia - on behalf of all the 22 Eastern Mediterranean countries).

Several Member States also expressed their concern on the inadequate resources and commitment made to implement the aspirations of the existing plan. The Assistant Director General for NCDs, Dr Oleg Chestnov responded by confirming the process to develop the new Action Plan and invited Member States to respond to the web based consultation of the zero draft due to be posted in early July.

1st International Conference on Healthy Lifestyles and Non-communicable Diseases in the Arab World and Middle East, 10 - 12 September 2012, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

MOH logo WHO Logo

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, is organizing conference on “Healthy Lifestyles and Non-communicable Diseases” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 10 - 12 September 2012.

The meeting under the patronage of the custodian of the two holy mosques His Majesty King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud will have in attendance high-level WHO officials and representatives from ministries of health, foreign affairs and planning, the League of Arab States, United Nations funding agencies, programmes and agencies, international financial institutions, development banks and other key international organizations. The meeting will focus on the implementation of the United Nations (UN) Political Declaration on Non-communicable Diseases in the region.

At the conference, the IAPB-EMR and the Saudi National Prevention of Blindness Committee will be organizing presentations on the relationship of prevention of blindness control and NCD control.

Jordan Diabetic Retinopathy Project: Ophthalmologists retrained in modern advances in the management of Diabetic Retinopathy

Jordan Project1

As part of the Diabetic retinopathy control project in Irbid (Jordan), which is being sponsored by the Standard Chartered Bank and implemented by PBU and the Jordan Ministry of Health, fourteen ophthalmologists from hospitals in Irbid received an intensive update course on early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy from 26 - 28 May 2012.

Jordan Project2

The training included lectures and practice in clinics. It was conducted at the ophthalmology department of University of Jordan by Prof Muawyah Bdour – a vitreoretinal expert and Chairman of Ophthalmology Department at University of Jordan and Dr Mohammad Abu Ameerh, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Jordan.

Further trainings with more practice on laser treatment for diabetic retinopathy were conducted in June and July 2012.

Jordan Project3

350 cataract surgeries conducted in Cameroon


Nadi Al Bassar, in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank and Tunisian Agency for Technical Cooperation, conducted their 6th cataract campaign in Yaounde, Cameroon from 17 - 23 June 2012. A total of 350 cataract operations were conducted including for congenital cataract among children. Also Dr Andre Omgbwaeballe was trained on manual phaco surgical technique.

2,000 cataract surgeries conducted in Somalia in cooperation with WHO

The IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation - an international NGO based in Turkey - in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) Eastern Mediterenean Regional Office had conducted 2,000 cataract surgeries across Somalia from April this year. The surgeries were spread across Somaliland (1,000), Puntland (600) and Mogadishu (400). Turkish medical teams along with local doctors performed the first group of cataract surgeries in Somaliland Hargaise. IHH, has so far sponsored 61,750 cataract surgeries across Africa, 10,000 of which were in Somalia.

IHH Photo1 IHH Photo2

CHEF International launches Newsletter

CHEF newslewtter The Comprehensive Health and Education Forum (CHEF) International - a major partner of PBU - has launched a quarterly newsletter which will be highlighting its activities. CHEF International, based in Peshawar, Pakistan, has its mission as the provision of high quality, affordable and sustainable comprehensive health and education services, including the rehabilitation of disabled persons through integrated approaches including total quality management. Click here for the newsletter.

IAPB 9th GA: A wide range of topics to be covered, 17 - 20 September 2012, Hyderabad, India

The 9th General Assembly of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness once again brings together some of the best minds in eye health who will be delivering lectures, driving discussions and moderating symposia. Speakers include various international experts who organized theme based sessions, which includes:

th General Assembly of the IAPB

The programme will discuss the latest research and broaden knowledge on every important aspect of the eye care sector and includes topics such as:

  • Diabetes Retinopathy – New Paradigms for Management in Areas of Limited Resources
  • Upscaling Blindness Prevention Efforts: The advocacy and paradigm shift needed
  • Social Entrepreneurship & Eye Care
  • Gender & Blindness
  • Refractive Error

Click here for more information on the 9th GA, programme, and to register.

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