CBM and The Carter Centre collaborated to provide life-changing eye surgery for two children in South Sudan. The partnership highlights the importance of cross-sectoral collaborations in ophthalmology to prevent lifelong blindness.
Sometimes organisations working in the field encounter situations that transcend formal partnerships. This was the case when CBM and The Carter Centre teamed up to provide life-changing eye surgery for two children in South Sudan.
The collaboration began when Stephen Ohidor, The Carter Center Trachoma Manager in South Sudan, discovered that two young children, Robina and Peter, who lived in a remote region, suffered from congenital cataracts, a disease that would eventually rob them of their sight. The Carter Centre does not perform surgery on children and there are very few eye surgeons in South Sudan, but Stephen was determined to help the two.
The Partnership to Restore Sight
Having known Lubari Samuel, CBM's Project Manager for trachoma in South Sudan, for many years and knowing that CBM has expertise in this area, Stephen turned to him for support.
"Stephen contacted me about the children who needed surgery. Although our project is a trachoma project, we always work hard and go above and beyond when it comes to children who need help."
Lubari wasted no time in organising the children's trip to Uganda, where they will be treated at the Mengo Eye Hospital, a CBM partner hospital in Uganda. The Mengo Eye Hospital is able to take in cases from nearby South Sudan, partly because CBM has supported the hospital for many years in establishing a centre of excellence for ophthalmology.
Comprehensive Support for the Children
CBM covered the costs of yellow fever vaccinations, covid tests and paperwork for the children and their family members. CBM also covered the costs of the trip to Uganda and the operations, which proved successful. The children who received follow-up treatment in Juba and will soon be fitted with glasses are doing well.
We have seen the impact the collaboration had on the two children who can now see and walk. When they returned to their village, no one could believe what had happened. It was like a miracle," says Lubari.
The Impact and Importance of Partnerships
Angelia Sanders, Deputy Director of the Trachoma Control Programme at The Carter Centre, emphasised the importance of such partnerships
"Collaborations between organisations are not as common as they should be.....This partnership between The Carter Centre and CBM is an example of working across countries, beyond neglected tropical diseases like trachoma, in ophthalmology, and of collaboration with each other. It was a small example of the cross-sectoral work we should be doing on a larger scale. If we could replicate it everywhere, all our work would be easier and more effective. These two children would have been blind for life, and now they will not be. This is what really matters. "