Former Himalayan Cataract Project trainee, Dr. Dechen Wangmo, Bhutan’s first and only pediatric ophthalmologist, is taking advantage of the constellation vitrectomy machine purchased for Dr. Bhim Rai's retinal practice to facilitate cataract surgery for a five month old boy with congenital cataracts. Dr. Rai is also a former HCP trainee.
“It really made a difference in the post op compared to the old machine we had. The parents are very happy and grateful to HCP and the department. I had explained to them about how you all have helped us and how it has translated into better patient care and outcomes.” —Dr. Dechen Wangmo
The training and equipment that HCP provides to doctors, like Drs. Wangmo and Rai, is crucial in developing a sustainable health care system that functions effectively over the long-term with minimal external involvement.
In outreach news, the Hetauda Community Eye Hospital (HCEH) in Nepal conducted an eye screening workshop for more than 500 prisoners at Bhimphedi Jail outside of Hetauda, referring seven cataract patients for surgery and prescribing 35 pairs of glasses - 12 pairs purchased immediately. HCEH is upgrading its community screening programs to include refraction, and providing glasses instantly.
While the number of cataract cases has been reduced in the region, cases of refractive error have increased. Eyeglasses provide low-cost, effective help with refractive error; and the proceeds from sales of eyeglasses help to offset the costs associated with free patient care for all eye ailments.
Also in Nepal, the newly-constructed Phaplu Community Eye Center opened in June, 2014. Since 2003, it has provided eye care to more than 30,000. In the first half of 2014, Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology (HCP's partner in Nepal), with HCP support, conducted seven Outreach Microsurgical Eye Clinics (OMECS) in Nepal and one in India, providing 1,811 cataract surgeries.
During late May, a six-day surgical visit to HCP's partner in Kumasi, Ghana, the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, KATH, provided 130 life changing eye surgeries - including 50 pediatric cases. The KATH Eye Center has increased its outreach and care since the February inauguration of the new surgical facility that has three dedicated operating rooms for eye surgery. KATH is the second largest hospital in Ghana and is a referral center for the Ashanti region and also treats patients from Burkina Faso, Cote D'Ivoire and the Republic of Togo. Partners from the University of Utah's John A. Moran Eye Center, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical College collaborated last month to provide ongoing mentorship to KATH's ophthalmic staff comprised of seven ophthalmologists, four ophthalmology residents, nurses and medical students.The KATH Eye Center has specialists in cornea, glaucoma, pediatrics, retina and oculoplastics. With HCP donor support, KATH performs routine screenings of patients in the surrounding regions to either provide care on site or refer to KATH.
The Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, HCP’s legacy partner in Nepal, recently organized an Outreach Microsurgical Eye Clinic (OMEC) in the Upper Mustang region of Nepal, one of the world’s most remote places. Upper Mustang is hidden in the shadows of the Himalayas and for centuries was isolated from the rest of Nepal. Tilganga began working in this region in 2009.
During this most recent campaign, sight was restored to an elderly woman who had been blind for eight years and trekked to the campaign on horseback, accompanied by her 21-year-old grandson. Following bilateral surgery, the patient could see her grandson’s face, and proudly walked back to her home.
Another outreach event was held In early April by the Phaplu Community Eye Center (CEC), in the Solukumbo region of Nepal. 1,498 patients were examined and 80 cataract surgeries were provided. Run by a five-person staff, the Phaplu CEC is overseen by Tilganga and realized a 6% increase in patient care in 2013. The Himalayan Cataract Project is supporting the construction of the two-story, six-room community eye center, with help from the Nancy Allison Perkins Foundation, as the original Phaplu CEC had outgrown its facility. Construction is expected to be completed by June 2014.