Almost £10m was raised by a charity’s efforts to financially support cataract operations in developing countries around the world, with the government of the United Kingdom doubling the total funds raised by the British public.
The A Million Miracles campaign launched by the Sightsavers during last year’s World Sight Day (October 9) aimed to help provide about one million cataract operations to save sight over a period of three years by raising £30m. The public appeal will continue until 2018 and with the money raised to date, over 324,000 cataract operations for those with impaired vision living in the poorest countries of the world can be performed.
Through the Department for International Development (DFID), the government will match the amount of money raised by the appeal in the three initial months, from October to December, 2014, taking in donations worth £9.7m.
Sightsavers has launched this initiative in several countries with a strong fundraising presence, such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Ireland and the United States. As part of the effort to raise awareness of the campaign, a cataract operation on 69 year-old Winesi March from Malawi was transmitted in a global live broadcast and the viewers were able to watch his bandages being removed and witness the moment Mr. March could see after two years of blindness.
Later, Mr. March had a second surgery and had his sight restored in both eyes. He said in a press release: “Everything that I was not able to see, I am now able to see clearly. I now have the sense of belonging to my community, a thing that was lacking during the time I was blind. My life has completely changed now that I am able to see again. The most important thing is that I am again able to see my wife, my children and my grandchildren. I missed seeing their faces so much.”
Baroness Northover, parliamentary under secretary of state at DFID, said about the campaign: “Sightsavers is helping hundreds of thousands of people in some of the poorest parts of Africa to regain their sight through its A Million Miracles appeal. The UK government has matched public donations to this appeal so together we can help victims of debilitating diseases to return to work or education, giving them back their independence and control of their own lives.”
The Sightsavers’ CEO noted that eye care treatments might possibly be the most cost-effective health procedures in the world, adding: “We were thrilled to be able to tell the Baroness about the life-changing work we do, and thank her for her department’s ongoing support.”