The Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP), along with the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, are working with the government of Myanmar to improve the nation's eye care system. As part of this work, in March, Himalayan Cataract Project Co-Founders Drs. Sanduk Ruit and Geoff Tabin, along with partners from the Yangoon Eye Hospital, completed a cataract and corneal surgical training workshop. Over a 10-day period, 30 ophthalmologists and 20 ophthalmology residents gained valuable surgical skills. Over 700 surgeries were completed at two locations (Yangoon and Taunggyu), including 11 corneal transplants. Patients ranged from 4 years to 106 years old.
Additionally, HCP and Tilganga have discussed the development of a Cornea Eye Bank in Myanmar with local partners. Myanmar currently receives a far fewer number of cornea donations than what is needed. The development of a local eye bank would be a tremendous step towards curing corneal disease throughout the country.
Meanwhile in Nepal in March, Dr. Geoff Tabin participated in a four-day, hands-on cornea training workshop at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Nepal. Dr. Tabin worked alongside four Nepali and one Indian corneal specialist to practice new techniques, review procedures, and provide ongoing assessment and training. In 2014, the eye bank had its most successful year with more than 550 corneas made available for transplant.
And in India Dr. Govind Paudyal and his team from the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology returned to Jagadguru Kripalu Chikitsalaya Charity Hospital in Mangahr, India, to work with local surgeons on a four-day cataract campaign. Working with local ophthalmologists, Dr. Paudyal’s team completed a total of 894 cataract surgeries and six other eye surgeries.
Following a short trip in Kenya, Dr. Geoff Tabin traveled to Ghana to work with local partners in Kumasi and Accra. Dr. Tabin worked with the Eye Staff at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, KATH, to provide 107 cataract surgeries and four cornea transplants.
The team then traveled to Kwame Danso, the capital city in the Sene District of the Brong Ahafo Region (north of Kumasi) for another 109 cataract surgeries. This was the first in the region.
Dr. Tabin also brought donated cornea tissue from SightLife for Dr. James Clarke in Accra and met with Dr. Beau Wiafe and other surgeons working to eradicate unnecessary blindness in Ghana.
Meanwhile, HCP International Fellow Dr. Anya Gushchin was at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, Ghana, working with HCP partners and providing lectures on oculoplastics to ophthalmology residents.
In the year since KATH was formally inaugurated, significant progress has been made in the number of patients treated. In its first year of operation in the newly constructed facility, outpatient numbers rose by 38% and surgical numbers rose by 26.5%, making 2014 KATH’s strongest year of surgical volume.
In December, Himalayan Cataract Project's partner in Nepal, the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology's outreach team organized an Outreach Microsurgical Eye Clinic (OMEC) in Nuwokot, Nepal. The team screened 3,763 patients and provided 306 cataract surgeries. The outreach team included trainees from Myanmar, Ethiopia and Australia. Each year the Tilganga outreach team provides close to 10,000 surgeries outside of the main hospital in Kathmandu.
In October, HCP's co-founder, Dr. Sanduk Ruit, led a team from Tilganga to manage outreach cataract events in Bhutan and northern India. The group worked with local surgeons and paramedical staff in both locations. A total of 388 cataract surgeries were provided; 257 in Bhutan and 131 in northern India.
In Bhutan, Dr. Ruit and Royal Highness Princess Kezang Wangmo Wanhchuk jointly inaugurated the Eye Bank at the National Referral Hospital in Thimphu, which will serve corneal patients and play an important role in addressing corneal blindness in Bhutan. To read more about the Eye Bank, please visit this link: http://www.kuenselonline.com/bhutan-embarks-on-eye-bank-venture/#.VMj3bmTF8Sg.