Health  Ethiopia Project #16151

Outreach Eye Camps in Ethiopia

by Himalayan Cataract Project, Inc. Vetted since 2008 Site Visit Verified
Dr. Sadik Taju
Dr. Sadik Taju

HCP Recognizes the Contributions of Pediatric Ophthalmology Specialist and Head of Pediatrics at Menelik II Referral Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Dr. Sadik Taju.

HCP began working with Dr. Sadik Taju in 2012 when he assumed a joint position at Ayder Hospital and Quiha Zonal Hospital in Mekelle, Ethiopia. A year later, Dr. Sadik organized a month-long outreach program at Quiha Zonal Hospital, where he and his team performed over 2,000 surgeries in just four weeks. In January of 2015, Dr. Sadik started a full year-long surgical fellowship in pediatrics at the Sick Kids Children’s Hospital Toronto, Canada. After successful completion of the program, Dr. Sadik was recognized as the first pediatric ophthalmologist in Ethiopia with a full surgical fellowship. He is now head of Pediatric Ophthalmology at Menelik II Referral Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In September of 2016, Dr. Sadik began leading the HCP project: Improving Pediatric Eye Health in Ethiopia - supported by a grant through the USAID Child Blindness Program. The continued aim of this project is to build the capacity of Menelik II’s pediatric ophthalmology staff in order to ensure both the provision of high quality care as well as essential personnel capable of training the next generation of pediatric ophthalmologists in Ethiopia.

Dr. Sadik continues to lead HCP’s pediatric efforts in Ethiopia and champions its successes - seeing the emergence of a superior eye care system for children within the country.

"When I was in Toronto for my fellowship, my mentor told me something that I think of all the time. She said it wasn't that long ago that Canada also suffered from a lack of eye care systems. So I see that for Ethiopis and I can see a future in my lifetime where this is possible. It is why I came back to Ethiopia, because I knew my country and its children needed me. With HCP's support, we are one step closer." - Dr. Sadik Taju Sherief

 

Happy patients after patches are removed
Happy patients after patches are removed

High-volume cataract outreach at Woldiya Hospital results in 953 sight restoring surgeries

In just five days time, a team comprised of HCP Affiliated Ophthalmologists, in-country personnel, HCP staff and volunteers performed and assisted in a total of 953 sight restoring cataract surgeries. In attendance was HCP Board Member, Dr. Matt Oliva; Wake Forest University Associate Professor and Ophthalmologist, Dr. Matthew Giegengack; Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology's Head of Glaucoma Clinic & Research Department, Dr. Suman Thapa; and Emory Eye Center's Global Ophthalmology Fellow, Fran Wu, all of whom traveled to Woldiya, Ethiopia to work with Woldiya Hospital Cataract Surgeon, Dr. Abraham Aregay, for the outreach campaign from October 9-15.

 

The following are a few patient stories captured at this outreach:

Desale, 15 year old boy: This young man said he had been blind in his right eye as long as he can remember. He was unable to stay in school, was ridiculed for his blindness by bullies and has not attended class for years. He lives in Woldiya with his family and generally stays at home with his mother as she cooks and cleans. He is a quiet and sweet boy, who was brave and fearless as he entered the operating room and then quietly waited for his turn on the operating table. When his patch was taken off the next day, he quietly scanned the room with a look of astonishment on his face. After awhile he began to smile and started chatting, the most we had seen him do in the two days spent together at the outreach. He said he is most excited to go back to school and stated that he wants to be a teacher. When he becomes a teacher, he hopes to help kids who were like him and protect them from bullies.

40 year old farmer: This man was brought by his brother in-law, who had a cataract in his right eye removed at our June outreach in Arba Minch. He had not had vision in his left eye and was only able to see partially out of his right before arriving from Wichale, about 61 km away. He lives there with his wife and 8 children and farms wheat, corn and beans. After his patches were removed he said he is most happy that his four children, who have been helping on the farm, can now go back to school. They did not go to school because they had to help make a living for their family. After speaking with us he called his family and you could hear cries of joy and excitement from the receiver.

Mother with baby: This mother of eight came to the outreach with her youngest child and husband. As she waited patiently to have her patches removed, Dr. Matt Oliva noticed an eye infection in her almost 2-year-old daughter. With a quick call for eye drops to clear up a case of conjunctivitis, the baby's eye was cleared up by the afternoon. This mother said she is eager to get back to her children and work her cattle once again.

Whelai, 12 year old boy: This young boy came with his father and had a cataract in his left eye. He never looked up the entire time he was at the hospital and was very shy. He had his cataract for 2 years and was unable to go to school because of it. His father is a cattle farmer and his days were mostly spent sitting in a field waiting for his father to finish herding. He said he is most looking forward to going back to school and making friends, and he now wants to be a doctor when he grows up.

Martha, 67 year old woman: Martha came with her son and had been blind from cataracts for about 2 years. She said the hardest part of being blind was having to rely on someone for everything. She said, "When I was blind I just ate food people put in my hands without even knowing what it was. Now I can eat my favorite foods and choose them myself. You {HCP} took me out of the darkness and now I am alright! I can go back to church all by myself and thank God for giving me sight back."

Desale waiting for surgery
Desale waiting for surgery
Desale after surgery, his sight restored
Desale after surgery, his sight restored
40 year old farmer, with his sight restored
40 year old farmer, with his sight restored
Mother with baby
Mother with baby
Whelai after his patches were removed
Whelai after his patches were removed
Martha
Martha
Patients waiting to have patches removed
Patients waiting to have patches removed

High-volume cataract outreach at Quiha Zonal Hospital results in 1,367 sight restoring surgeries

In just five days time, an amazing team comprised of HCP Affiliated Ophthalmologists and a host of in-country personnel and volunteers performed and assisted in a total of 1,367 sight restoring cataract surgeries. In attendance was HCP Co-Founder, Dr. Geoff Tabin; New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai Professor of Ophthalmology, Dr. Sean Ianchulev; HCP International Fellow, Dr. Neda Nikpoor; and long-time HCP supporter, David Dossetter, all of whom traveled to Mekelle, Ethiopia to work with Quiha Zonal Hospital’s Head Ophthalmologist, Dr. Tilahun Kiros, for the outreach campaign from August 21-26.

 

The following is an update from the field as reported by Dr. Tabin:

 

“In Mekelle, working with our partners at Quiha Zonal Hospital, we completed [almost] 1,400 sight restoring cataract surgeries...We operated on 51 pediatric cataracts. We had several Peace Corps Volunteers helping us and it was a great overall team effort that also included lots of teaching and great improvement by a resident from Gondar University. We also had Sean Ianchulev with us for a few days who brought an array of interesting ideas, technologies and also performed several surgeries.”

 

Drs. Tabin and Nikpoor are currently at Arbaminch Hospital in Ethiopia with HCP Chief of Program Administration, Pam Clapp, and HCP Board Members, Dr. Adrienne Graves and Mr. Mo Siegel, for another large outreach that will last through Monday, September 4th.

Patient undergoing cataract surgery
Patient undergoing cataract surgery
Joy after sight restoration
Joy after sight restoration
Kababush- Patient Story 1
Kababush- Patient Story 1

Arba Minch Hospital hosts HCP Affiliated Ophthalmologist and Lenovo equipment tester for cataract outreach.

HCP Affiliated Ophthalmologist Dr. John Welling, Lenovo employee Chris Annison and The Keeler Family traveled to Ethiopia to work with HCP partner Dr. Dawit Gidey of the Arba Minch Hospital in Ethiopia for a cataract outreach from June 12-16. In just four days, a total of 607 cataract surgeries and one corneal tear repair were performed.

Dr. John Welling participated in several surgical outreach events as an HCP International Fellow from 2015 to 2016. He is now one of HCP’s Affiliated Ophthalmologists and works with HCP Board Member Dr. Matt Oliva at the Medical Eye Center in Medford, OR. Dr. Dawit Gidey is an HCP partner Ophthalmologist at the Arba Minch Hospital and most recently spent five months in an HCP-supported cornea sub-specialty training program at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Nepal.

Chris Annison works for Lenovo, a US-based innovative consumer, commercial and enterprise technologies company. In addition to generously supporting to this outreach, Lenovo is working with HCP to test tablets that collect monitoring and evaluation data in the field.

HCP would like to thank Chris and the Keeler family; Cliff, Wendy, Chelsey, India, Jaxon and Durban, who volunteered at this outreach with their time and also provided support through the Keeler Lift Up the Hands Fund. Below are two patient stories captured by this amazing group.

Patient Stories:

This is Kababush, she is 34 years old and a mother of six. She was blind in both eyes because of advanced cataracts. Due to her blindness, her husband has been taking care of their children, significantly reducing his ability to earn income. As a result the older children were also forced to stay home from school in order to help with their younger siblings. Kababush traveled 175 km to Arba Minch during this outreach in hopes that she would regain her sight giving her the ability to take care of her family again. Prior to her cataract surgeries she said if her sight was restored the first thing she would do is give thanks to God and go home to take care of her kids again. The next day, she did exactly that.

This is Mekelmu (pictured with his father & Dr. Welling), he is 14 years old and has been blind in both eyes from cataracts since the age of 7. Not wanting him to fall behind, Mekelmu’s father made him go to school through second grade, even after he lost his sight. However, he was teased and bullied so much that eventually his father allowed him to stay home. When he was blind he would sit at home by himself or go to the fields where his father worked and sit on the ground. During this outreach he received sight sight restoring surgery in both eyes. Mekelmu says he can't wait to go back to school and help his mother at home.

Mekelmu w/ Dad & Dr. Welling
Mekelmu w/ Dad & Dr. Welling
Dr. Welling & Dr. Dawit
Dr. Welling & Dr. Dawit
Docs & Volunteers who attended outreach
Docs & Volunteers who attended outreach
Patients waiting to get bandages taken off
Patients waiting to get bandages taken off
Geoff Tabin in Arbaminch
Geoff Tabin in Arbaminch

A surgical outreach intervention held at Arbaminch General Hospital in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR) region from March 20-25th provided 981 cataract surgeries. The surgical team consisted of HCP co-founder Dr. Geoff Tabin, Dr. Demoze of Hawassa University, Abraham Aregay of Woldiya Hospital, HCP Volunteer Timmy O’Neill and visiting staff from other Ethiopian partners, including Quiha Zonal Hospital, Hawassa University, Mekele Hospital, Jimma University and Peace Corps. HCP and its 10 implementing partners in Ethiopia are working to reduce the backlog of cataract blindness. It is estimated that over 600,000 people are blind due to cataracts. HCP’s support for outreach campaigns provide much needed service while building ophthalmic capacity for Ethiopia’s present and future eye care personnel.

Also in March, HCP Partner Abba Philippos Memorial Eye Clinic of Ethiopia conducted 3 consecutive outreach events, yielding a total of 549 surgeries – the highest number of people this outreach team has reached in a single month. The team began at Bodji Clinic, where 90 cataract surgeries were performed in two days. From there, they traveled directly to Aira Base Hospital, where a huge crowd was waiting for treatment. That week, they were able to complete 174 cataract surgeries, which is a record high for the base hospital. Finally, the surgical team made their way to Dembidollo, where they did an additional 285 cataract surgeries in six days. Advance screening of patients was conducted by the Aira Base Hospital and Dembidollo staff.

“On behalf of the eye team and the patients, we would like to thank you and our donors for this huge help. May God bless you all. We are very glad to be part of this.”

Patient Stories from the Field:

  • A female patient, age 25, had been blind for two years. She completed grade nine but could not go back to school due to her poor eye vision. Her exam revealed bilateral cataracts. Surgery went well with excellent post-operative vision. The next morning upon removing her eye patches, she smiled and stared at her brother who had brought her to the hospital. She is very eager to go back to school.
  • A female patient, age 30, had been blind for 13 years. She had been advised by traditional healers not to seek modern medical care and thus remained at home for many years, unable to see. The surgery was uneventful and she had an excellent outcome. After the patch was removed, she told her story to other patients and kept on smiling and laughing.
  • A male patient had been blind for the last 12 months from cataracts. He moved to Wellega from the eastern part of Ethiopia 8 years ago due to drought in that area. He could not afford to go to Aira Hospital and had been waiting for the arrival of the Abba Philippos eye team. He had excellent post operative vision and was very happy. 
Timmy O
Timmy O'Neill with patient
Patients in Western Ethiopia
Patients in Western Ethiopia
 

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Organization Information

Himalayan Cataract Project, Inc.

Location: Waterbury, VT - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.cureblindness.org
Project Leader:
Tai Nixa Peterson
Deputy Director of Operations
Waterbury, VT United States

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