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.
The formal inauguration of the Eye Center at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, Ghana, took place on Tuesday, February 25. The event was well-attended by Ghanaian dignitaries, project partners and members of the press.
Ghana’s Minister of Health, Ms. Sherry Ayittey, saluted the various partners for their contribution to the facility and said she found it refreshing that the facility would train more eye care professionals to overcome the distribution imbalance of eye care personnel in Ghana. The country has a population of 24 million with only 74 ophthalmologists concentrated in the urban areas with an estimated 240,000 blind.
To mark the facility’s completion, KATH organized a cataract and cornea surgical workshop in the days leading up to the inauguration. KATH’s clinical team managed multiple screening events in three different districts to draw patients from nine communities. Patients were bussed to the new facility for surgery and then recovered in the new patient wards. In total, 160 cataract surgeries (including 20 patients who were bilaterally blind) and six corneal transplant surgeries were provided. With the new facility complete KATH anticipates replicating this type of outreach event at least once a month in an effort to increase patient examinations and surgical volume.
Himalayan Cataract Project International Fellow Dr. Ben Thomas participated in an outreach event in a small town in the Dhading district of Nepal. Dr. Thomas worked alongside Dr. Anu Manandhar (former HCP fellow) of the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, and performed 30 surgeries. The outreach was sponsored by Tilganga and the Fred Hollows Foundation and held at a local school; surgeries and follow-up care were all performed within classrooms.
Outreach teams often reach inaccessible areas by foot and more often than not arrive to communities with no electricity and minimal sanitation and potable water. Within a matter of hours, the team can turn a dusty schoolhouse, or whatever building is available, into an equivalent medical ward where sight-restoring surgery is carried out to comparable standards found in the developed world.
Even in remote areas, the consistent goal of the team is to provide the highest quality eye care to as many people as possible and perform as many surgeries as possible. The eye camp ophthalmologists seek to treat everyone they can with a treatable eye disease.