Purpose It is estimated that globally there are more than 12.7 million corneal blinds with the vast majority of those living in the developing world. There is huge demand for corneal transplants worldwide as currently only one out of 70 patients can be provided with a cornea.
Following the spirit of EEBA in bringing together the international eye banking community we present on our efforts and vision in contributing to the elimination of avoidable blindness in Africa by promoting sustainable eye donation programs.
Methods At the congress of the South African Tissue Bank Association (SATiBA) in November 2022 a dedicated Round Table Discussion takes place on eye donation in Africa, organized by the World Union of Tissue Banking Associations (WUTBA) together with the Global Alliance of Eye Bank Associations (GAEBA), SATiBA and the German Society for Tissue Transplantation (DGFG). Individuals, national and global players in tissue medicine meet aiming to promote and advocate corneal donation in sub-Saharan Africa to establish patient care that is self-sustaining from within the countries.
In preparation for the meeting a questionnaire was completed by the participants to understand the current situation in individual countries: Responses by ophthalmologists, tissue bankers, awareness and tissue donation coordinators from Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and South Africa were evaluated.
Results The survey revealed that all countries are establishing national health acts with references to tissue donation or have them in place with regulations still to be detailed. These are fundamental to strengthen confidence in tissue donation and to start developing donation infrastructures. In all countries there is doubt about donation after death showing the need for advocacy towards the public.
The aim of the Round Table is creating a momentum of networking and sharing experience to support the African countries in building local infrastructures and becoming independent from tissue imports in the future.
Conclusion What frameworks must exist to successfully establish donation programs in Africa? What help can be provided by countries and organizations that have stable donation programs? These and other questions will be attempted at the Round Table. Bringing together experts, bundling synergies, and creating a momentum to promote cornea donation on social, political, and community level will be a step towards the vision of creating a world in which nobody is needlessly visually impaired.
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