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Noor Dubai Protects Sight of 500,000 Men, Women and Children Worldwide in the First Six Months

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 8, 2009 – Noor Dubai, the UAE-based charity initiative focused on preventing and treating low vision and curable forms of blindness, has successfully treated more than half a million individuals across the Middle East, Africa and Asia in its first six months of operations.

The HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid initiative, administered by the Dubai Health Authority, announced its half-year progress today with the Lions Clubs International Foundation, the world’s largest volunteer service organization. Noor Dubai is funding the foundation’s fight against river blindness and other preventable vision loss in Africa, and has so far saved or restored the sight of more than 400,000 people in Ethiopia, Mali, Cameroon and Uganda.  

Working with Middle East-based and international NGOs, Noor Dubai has also restored vision to more than 100,000 people across the Middle East and South Asia by providing cataract surgeries, medication and corrective eyewear.

His Excellency Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, CEO of Noor Dubai and Director General of the Dubai Health Authority, described the half-million mark as a significant milestone.

“HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, founded Noor Dubai in September 2008 with the aim of healing more than one million men, women and children around the world in one year. We are honored to have crossed the half-way mark in less than six months, thanks to our pioneering partners, and are confident of achieving our goal,” he said.  

Al Murooshid praised the commitment and hard work of the Lions Club volunteers and staff to reach some of the world’s most remote areas and its poorest populations. The joint Noor Dubai-Lions programme will provide villagers with access to the powerful Ivermectin drug, which kills the parasite larva that causes river blindness.

Dr. Tebebe Berhan of the Lions Club in Ethiopia said: “The commitment and generosity of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the Noor Dubai organization towards river blindness control is highly significant. The fight against this debilitating disease is critical not only in terms of public health but also for its positive effect on economic development and poverty reduction. The control of this disease thus positively impacts the health and vitality of individuals and their communities as well.”

According to the World Health Organization, more than 18 million people in Africa are infected with insect-borne river blindness, with more than 300,000 left irreversibly blind. An additional 125 million people are at risk from infection.

Noor Dubai is also working with international non-profit development agency ORBIS to provide patients with medical treatment, including cataract and trachoma surgeries, spectacles and training for primary health care workers, teachers and volunteer leaders from women’s groups. Additionally, nurses from district-level health centers will be trained to provide primary eye care and perform trichiasis surgery.

Noor Dubai is also working with Al Basar International, a Saudi-based NGO focused on blindness prevention: Together, the agencies have led a series of highly successful free cataract camps focused on screening, diagnostics and corrective treatment across South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

About Noor Dubai:
Noor Dubai, the latest global charitable initiative from the government of Dubai and the UAE, was launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on September 3, 2008, with the aim of delivering preventative eye care to more than one million people around the world. The initiative’s vision is for a world free from curable forms of blindness and impaired vision.

About Lions Clubs International and LCIF:
Lions Clubs International and LCIF have a decades-long commitment to blindness prevention through SightFirst, a global blindness prevention initiative with a mission to significantly reduce and prevent avoidable blindness worldwide. The program was launched in 1990, and it is administered by LCIF. To date it has saved the vision of more than 30 million people worldwide. For more information, visit www.lionsclubs.org and www.lcif.org.

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