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Press Release: The Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative's Cataract Surgeries Program Now Expanding Beyond Clinics to Include Public Hospitals

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Agreement signed at the invitation of Hospital Nacional Arzobispo Loayza

CGSGI has already completed over 7,000 cataract surgeries in Peru

New York, NY — Today, September 30, 2010, the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI) signed an agreement with Hospital Nacional Arzobispo Loayza, making it the first public hospital in Peru to provide cataract surgeries under CGSGI’s project.

CGSGI, which focuses on sustainable economic and social development in South America in partnership with governments, the private sector, nonprofits, and local communities, is now extending its surgery network to include public hospitals. Hospital Loayza is the first public hospital to be included in the network.

In conjunction with Fundación Carlos Slim and the Peruvian Ministry of Health (MINSA), CGSGI’s cataract surgery program currently operates in 23 out of the 24 regions of Peru with the participation of 15 private health clinics. The partnership helps build the capacity of MINSA, and the surgical equipment used for the project includes portable equipment that will remain in the Peruvian healthcare system and enable remote surgeries for many years to come.

The cataract surgeries project now has completed over 7,600 surgeries — with 1,020 surgeries performed in the month of August, Cataracts Awareness month. This important milestone is part of CGSGI’s goal of performing 50,000 cataract surgeries over four years throughout the country benefiting those who otherwise would not have access to or could not afford them

Hospital Loayza was founded in 1924, and it is one of the oldest and largest public hospitals in Lima. It services not only Lima’s economically deprived residents but also people coming from the provinces that require specialized attention. The ophthalmological area of the hospital will perform 50 to 60 cataracts operations a month as part of the agreement. The hospital has 800 beds and has 1,972 payroll employees and 852 outsourced employees.

In 2007, MINSA reported 83,000 cases of untreated cataracts in Peru. In March 2009, CGSGI signed a memorandum of understanding with the SLIM Foundation and MINSA, committing to facilitate 50,000 surgeries for impoverished populations in Peru over the span of four years. Both CGSGI and the SLIM Foundation committed up to $5,000,000 to the program. This includes the delivery of surgeries to poor and remote areas where surgeries were previously unavailable.

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the developing world, despite being preventable and relatively inexpensive to treat. In the developed world, on the other hand, blindness due to cataracts has been virtually eliminated. Cataracts create more than health problems for communities in Peru; many cannot afford the surgeries needed to have their cataracts removed and avoid the resulting blindness of untreated cataracts, leading to the loss of independence and economic productivity. The impact of the illness is further detrimental to the livelihoods of people in communities that are already economically depressed, including for family members whose economic options have been constrained by their need to be full-time caretakers.

The surgery is relatively inexpensive, non-intrusive and does not require general anesthesia. Patients typically require only a short recovery time and minimal post-surgery follow-up.

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