In recognition of Cataracts Awareness Month, read about how our Cataract Surgeries Program in Peru is helping to improve economic opportunity for thousands of people in underserved communities.
In the United States, more than 2 million cataract operations are performed each year – making it the most frequently performed surgery. However, cataracts remain the number one cause of blindness in the developing world. People are most susceptible to blindness from cataracts in areas with intense ultraviolet exposure, poor diet and malnutrition, and lack of clean water – all of which are prevalent in Peru, particularly in rural areas. Since 2007, the government of Peru has been working to provide cataracts surgeries to poor communities , but many people are not able to receive this life-changing surgery because they live too far and go untreated. As a result, people in underserved communities across Peru reduce their hours of work and rely on family members to take care of and financially provide for them.
The Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative help the poor work themselves out of poverty by providing the tools and opportunities they need to sustain a livelihood. Three years ago, CGSGI partnered with the Carlos Slim Foundation and the Peruvian Ministry of Health to provide 50,000 cataract surgeries by 2013. In addition to surgeries, CGSGI and the Slim Foundation have created a unique health network of public, private and NGO partners including 46 private clinics, 28 public hospitals, a team of doctors and health care support to provide cataract surgeries throughout all 24 regions of Peru.
To date CGSGI, the Slim Foundation, and the Peruvian Ministry of Health have provided more than 40,000 cataracts surgeries to Peruvians, which has helped to generate more than $2.2 million USD in direct economic impact for the patients to date – increasing their incomes by 55 percent.