Two August events in the North and South of Ethiopia restored sight to over 2,000 patients in under two weeks.
HCP is partnered with institutions across a broad geographic and cultural spectrum of Ethiopia that are working to provide high-quality, low-cost cataract surgeries to patients of all ages and backgrounds. In August, these partners along with support from a small international contingent, were successful in running back-to-back campaigns in nearly opposite corners of the country. By utilizing the capable medical staff in the two facilities and transporting materials and people on the 2-day journey from South to North with the help of a truly tenacious driver, HCP is happy to report that the vision of 2,086 individuals has been restored.
The first outreach event took place in Arba Minch, located approximately 500 kilometers south of Addis Ababa in the Gama Gofa Zone of the southern region of Ethiopia. Between August 4th and 9th, HCP’s co-founder, Dr. Geoff Tabin, Affiliated Ophthalmologist, Dr. Huck Holz, and local partners Dr. Dawit Geidey from Arba Minch and Dr. Daniel Getenah of Wolaita, worked together to complete 1,580 surgeries, 1,408 of which were for cataracts. The outreach proved to be a resounding success for both patients and doctors. The doctors used the opportunity of coming together to teach techniques, learn from experience, and celebrate successes including 3 of the doctors individually performing more surgeries within a day than their previous best- highlighting how hands-on mentoring at these events not only help patients, but also help doctors to become more efficient and effective in the operating theater.
When the surgeries and post-surgical work was completed in Arba Minch, the team mobilized to travel across Ethiopia by land and air in order to reach Axum in the Tigray Region in time to greet patients and begin their second series of surgeries. Between August 12th and 15th, Dr. Geoff Tabin, new HCP International Fellow Dr. John Hinkle, and local partners Dr. Tesfalem Hagos from Axum, Dr. Abera Chane from Gondar, and Dr. Yonas Mitiku from Mekelle, worked together to complete 868 surgeries, 678 of which were for cataracts. Axum, a city rooted in deep history and tradition in the northern highlands of Ethiopia, greeted members of the campaign with open arms throughout their time in the region. Especially gratifying were the number of pediatric surgeries performed for children who had experienced significant eye trauma. The on-the-ground HCP team, led by Country Representative Dr. Liknaw Adamu, ensured that patients were well cared for, logistics were in order, and everything was moving efficiently during the outreaches. HCP’s Teketel Mathiwos provided logistical support, Abreham Haddis ensured that medical devices were working effectively, and Meseret Fantahun and Tigist Gelashe worked with medical staff to check post-op visual acuity and share experiences while HCP volunteer and surgical nurse, James Garrett provided teaching, mentoring, humor and feedback to all!