ORBIS volunteer seeks to end blindness by building eye care capacity in Ethiopia
Irish ophthalmologist Donal Brosnahan, recently spent a week in Addis Ababa. What he left behind was even more valuable than the sight regained by the handful of children he personally treated. Thanks to his efforts, and those of ORBIS, Ethiopia now has two more ophthamologists trained in advanced paediatric surgical techniques.
“The purpose was to teach skills”, says Brosnahan who practices in Dublin, Ireland. “We had two local ophthamologists, one with quite a bit of paediatric experience. The first day we screened 36 patients to find the best cases for teaching. I then spent 5 days instructing and assisting surgeries at Menelik II Hospital in Addis Ababa”.
During his time at the hospital, Brosnahan also helped educate operating room nurses and primary care physicians in techniques as well as instructing public health workers in screening and follow up skills for patients in remote villages and underserved urban areas.
“It was a full, 360-degree training effort, a comprehensive approach that recognises you have to have it all to make surgery possible. Anesthesia, nursing, equipment maintenance, and supplies as well as surgical skills. One element is not enough to make the whole thing work”.
The systematic approach of improving eye care that Dr Brosnahan experienced exemplifies the ORBIS philosophy.
Dr Brosnahan spends a week every year volunteering for ORBIS in Ethiopia. “It gives me an opportunity to give back”. It also deepens his appreciation for the high level of skill of his colleagues in Ireland. “You kind of take it for granted that expert anaesthesia and nursing and equipment maintenance will be there, but they aren’t everywhere”.