Site for sight

A new regional health centre in The Gambia, which will serve eight West African countries, could save hundreds of thousands from blindness and prevent conflict.

The Sheikh Zayed Regional Eye Care Centre (SZRECC) is being hailed by African leaders as an historic example of regional co-operation and global partnership, in order to combat Africa’s dire shortage of health care professionals.

The Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, based in the Middle East, donated $1.5 million towards the new facility. The SZRECC will treat hundreds of thousands of people for sight threatening conditions such as cataract, and train desperately needed eye surgeons and nurses to work across West Africa.

The project is an initiative of the Health for Peace Initiative which now includes the Republic of Guinea, Guinea Bissau, The Gambia, Senegal, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mauritania and Mali. It was set up six years ago to tackle major health issues affecting the region – including avoidable blindness, immunisation, Malaria control and HIV and AIDS. It was also designed to act as a stabilising influence in a part of Africa blighted by political and economic upheaval in recent years.