Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
My last journey of the year: Ethiopia. The WHO recommends that sub-Saharan Africa has approximately one ophthalmologist for every 250,000 people. Unfortunately, Ethiopia falls far below this recommendation, with only one ophthalmologist for every 1,500,000 people. This grossly underserved area of the world is not alone in its fight against blindness, though. One of the most exciting parts of this year was the chance to get to work with the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP). Started by Geoffrey Tabin and Sanduk Ruit, the organization has been traveling to the farthest corners of the world to combat reversible blindness. HCP has been working tirelessly for decades to make Ethiopia an example of how even the deepest pockets of blindness can be reversed. The first week I arrived, I was amazed to see that 41 residents were able to sit for the International Council of Ophthalmology’s annual standardized exam. Talented faculty, knowledge hungry residents, and the support of organizations like HCP make me optimistic about the future of eye care in Ethiopia. For the time being, however, it will take many more years and many more people to dedicate themselves to improving education and eye care in Ethiopia before blindness can be eradicated in this corner of the world.
My main goals with HCP in Ethiopia were to visit the different residency programs that they support across the country, give educational lectures to residents, understand the role that organizations like Wills Eye Hospital can play to support HCP’s mission here, and to help with high volume surgical outreaches.