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Project Background

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people have been forced to flee their homes in northern Myanmar to escape brutal persecution and genocide. Almost a million people – mostly children and older people – are now living in desperate conditions in the sprawling, overcrowded refugee camps near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. 

There is an alarming rate of cataract among the Rohingya refugee population – more than five times the rate in the rest of Bangladesh. Right now, an estimated 50,000 people are in urgent need of cataract surgery. 

Baitush Sharaf is the only eye hospital in Cox’s Bazar, and the huge number of refugees needing treatment far outstrips capacity. The 50-bed eye hospital serves a population of 2.5 million people, and just has two eye surgeons. 

Project Overview

The Fred Hollows Foundation has joined the massive humanitarian response to this refugee crisis, doing the one thing we can to help – restoring sight. 

The Fred Hollows Foundation has commenced work this year, to train more local health professionals and surgeons, who will help address the cataract surgical backlog that now exists among Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.  

The Foundation is also building and equipping an eye clinic inside the refugee camp, to reduce the pressure on the local eye clinic in Cox’s Bazar, and so we are best placed to address the significant needs that exist.

What's Covered in Project Cost

Right now, an estimated 50,000 people are in urgent need of cataract surgery. In response, The Fred Hollows Foundation has committed to perform over 40,000 cataract surgeries over the next three years. The contribution of $20,000 through The Footprints Network will help Rohingya refugees to see again through the following specific activities:

  • Screen 1,700 Rohingya refugees; and 
  • Perform 300 cataract surgeries for Rohingya refugees. 

Partners and Community Involvement

The Fred Hollows Foundation has been working in Bangladesh since 2007. Over half a million people in Bangladesh are blind from cataract and the country has one of the highest reported rates of untreated cataract in the world.

The Foundation was in the right position to respond to the Rohingya refugee crisis, as we were already supporting sight restoring work in Cox’s Bazar through our partner, Baitush Sharaf Eye Hospital. This partnership will continue in Cox’s Bazar and the surrounding refugee camps as our work in Bangladesh expands. 

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