In Sub-Saharan Africa, the rate of blindness and vision impairment is twice the global average while 80 percent of the cases are preventable or treatable. Half of those living with avoidable blindness are affected by cataracts, a clouding of the lens which can easily be treated with a simple 20 minute surgery.
An estimated 48,000 surgeries ae needed each year in Cameroon to treat new cases of cataracts as well as the current backlog of people who need cataract surgery is estimated to be 115,000. There are just three ophthalmologists per one million people in Cameroon as compared to the global average of around 31 ophthalmologists per one million people.
The “Cameroon Cataract Development Impact Loan” is a new way for funding healthcare in low and middle income countries. To financially support good eye care in the area, the “Impact Loan” is a results-based contract where investors provide financing for social programs upfront and donor organizations repay investors their principal plus a return based on performance in delivering social outcomes.
In an environment where the need for international development funding often outstrips the resources available, the Impact Loans offer a promising new solution for more effective efficient financing.
The funds will be used to prevent blindness by providing as many as 18,000 cataract surgeries in Cameroon over the next five years. This project will bring together public and private investors, health donors, and eye care delivery experts.
Funds will support the Magrabi ICO Cameroon Eye Institute (MICEI) https://www.micei.org established by the Africa Eye Foundation www.africaneyefoundation.co.za. MICEI is going to provide high quality and affordable eye care procedures and play an important role in strengthening healthcare systems. MICEI will provide certified training through the University of Yaounde with the intent to produce the next generation of African eye care experts.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) https://www,opic.gov has committed a USD $2 million loan to support this project. OPIC, the U.S Government’s development finance institution, is one of the first development finance institutions to commit funding to a project using this kind of innovative financial instrument. The Netri Foundation, a Spanish private charitable organization will also provide upfront financing for the project.
The Partners will repay investors when goals are met. These partners include the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation https://www.hiltonfoundation.org, the Fred Hollows Foundation https://www.hollows.org, and Sightsavers https://www.sightsavers.org an international organization. The Africa Eye Foundation www.africaneyefoundation.co.za will operate as a partner and D. Capital Partners www.d-capital-partners.com will advise on how to raise funds..