The Apl.de.ap Foundation International, the charity established by apl.de.ap of the Grammy Award-winning group, Black Eyed Peas, and The Vision Center at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, the leading center for the care of children with complex eye diseases, are launching a partnership to prevent blindness in newborns.
The “Campaign for Filipino Children” is a two-year initiative that will provide a sustainable approach to the diagnosis and treatment of a pediatric eye affliction in premature babies that is a widespread medical and economic concern in the Philippines.
Apl.de.ap, a Filipino-American musical artist who suffers from an eye ailment and is considered legally blind, has pledged to raise approximately $650,000 in part through a series of concerts. The first event takes place Sunday, June 8 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, where he will be joined by will.i.am and Taboo to raise funds for the campaign as well as the rebuilding efforts in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. A second concert at Agua Caliente’s 2014 Summer Extravaganza in Palm Springs, Calif. is set for August 16 where a key raffle prize is a 2014 racing red Ford Mustang. Additionally, lead campaign sponsor Western Union has committed $150,000 to the effort, and the public will be able to make donations to support the campaign via www.ForFilipinoChildren.com (site goes live on 6.5.14).
Every year, at least ten percent of all premature births in the Philippines are caused in part by the relative deficient prenatal care available to the poor, and at least thirty percent of those develop retinopathy, a disease that causes abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina. If not treated within 48 hours of diagnosis, these premature babies become permanently blind.
Most medical practitioners and hospitals in the Philippines do not have the training or equipment to recognize, diagnose and treat the affliction to prevent blindness. The campaign intends to enter into four pilot hospital partnerships in the Philippines, who will undergo extensive medical training from Thomas Lee, MD, division chief of The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and his team of specialists, who will also supply retinal imaging systems called RetCams to assist in diagnosis. By training at least six to ten medical practitioners in four hospitals, more than 4,000 babies can be saved from blindness caused by retinopathy of prematurity every year.
Dr. Lee and his team have previously executed a similar multi-year program to address retinopathy of prematurity in Armenia under the auspices of USAID Armenia.