Wednesday, May 27, 2009

IEF visits KCCO in Tanzania

A group of IEF Board members and friends had our "eyes opened" at the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO) in March 2009. IEF helped establish KCCO in Moshi, Tanzania seven year ago. Founders and co-directors, Dr. Paul Courtright and his wife Dr. Susan Lewallen have worked with IEF for over 20 years. We sent Susan, an ophthalmologist, to provide eye care on the island of St. Kitts for a year in the 1980's, and Paul and Susan were IEF's co-Country Directors in Malawi from 1990-1995. They are two of the most experienced professionals in the global eye care community!

The KCCO staff described their strategies for reducing blindness from cataract and other diseases threatening the sight of Africans. It was hot and humid in Moshi and an afternoon thunderstorm knocked out the electricity for a while until the generators kicked in. All part of the challenges of living and working in rural Africa. The staff carried on and explained their strategies to reach people living in remote villages who can't get to hospital for eye care. Next door to KCCO is the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC). We toured the eye clinic and watched Dr. Anthony Hall, Director of the Eye Department, perform cataract surgery. Amazing!

The next day, we went with the KCCO outreach team to Mwika Village on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. It was a foggy morning and chilly at 6,000 feet up the mountain, but green and lush and the air was clear and sweet. The flame trees, bouganvilla and a myriad of tropical flowers were in full bloom - almost heaven. When the sun came out and warmed us up, we could see down into the vast valleys below. The team set up the vision and exam stations and over 250 people, elderly men and women, and children of all ages and their parents, came to get their eyes examined! School children in their brown, blue and green uniforms depending on their school, were excited to get their eyes checked. Many suffered from allergies and were treated right away, and some needed glasses which they received on the spot. Mary, a village elder in her 80's and dressed in a colorful sweater and "kanga" cloth, was one of the most memorable. She arrived late having walked a few kilometers with her stick and reached out to greet us with a hug and a big smile. She complained of poor eye sight although you'd never know it. It was clear that she is a tough old lady, and had lived a healthy life. Mary was diagnosed with cataract and was one of 13 who were transported back to KCMC that day for cataract surgery. With a new intra-oclular lens, Mary and the others were transported back to a clearer and brighter Mwika to return to their families with new vision for the future. It was a successful day and a most rewarding visit!

Victoria M. Sheffield

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dr. Susan Lewallen visits IEF

Dr. Susan Lewallen came to Washington, DC to make presenations at USAID and the National Eye Institute and visited IEF on May 22nd. Susan and her husband, Dr. Paul Courtright are the co-founders and co-directors of the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology in Moshi, Tanzania. A group of IEF Board members and friends had the opportunity to visit KCCO in February and learn about the research and training being provided for eye care professionals from all over Africa. Susan's presentations focused on health care management and the challenges of eye research in Africa.

Photo L-R: Susan Lewallen with IEF's Raheem Rahmathullah, John Barrows

Victoria M. Sheffield
President & CEO

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dr. Moses Chirambo Elected to Parliament in Malawi

Our long time colleague, Prof. Moses Chirambo, MD was elected yesterday to Parliament from Rumphi District. Dr. Chirambo was the first Malawian ophthalmologist. IEF has supported Dr. Chirambo and the development of Malawi's eye care services since 1975. We established the Ophthalmic Assistant Training Program in 1980 and implemented successful vitamin A and river blindness control programs in the country. The eye clinics in Lilongwe and Blantyre were two of IEF's original sustainability partners. Dr. Chirambo has been a part of these successes all along the way. We are very proud of his achievements and thrilled at his election to Parliament. Congratulations Moses!

Photo L-R: Dr. Moses Chirambo, the secretary, Dr. Kirin Kumar (optometrist), Dr. R. Pararajasegaram in the IEF established optical service in Lilongwe.

Victoria M. Sheffield
President & CEO

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gates Award Nomination

The International Eye Foundation – Gates Global Health Award nominee.

IEF was nominated for the 2009 Gates Award for contributions to improving global health.

It was a great honor to receive a nomination for this prestigious award, however, the award for 2009 went to another worthy institution – we congratulate them on being selected.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine — the first academic institution to win the annual prize and the first British winner — was chosen by a jury of international health leaders for its efforts to build health systems and train health personnel in low-income and post-conflict countries while researching diseases that particularly affect disadvantaged people, including malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cap Haitien, Haiti

I just returned from a recent trip to Cap-Haitien, Haiti on behalf of VOSH/PA to assess how eye care is provided in Cap-Haitien in the North Department, Haiti. Dr. Guerline Roney and Dr. Marlyse Dominique, ophthalmologists at the Hospital Justinien, are providing tremendous leadership and have dramatically increased the number of persons served over a short time period at the hospital. The number of patients examined increased from 2,270 in 2006 to 16,715 in 2008 and over the same time period the number of surgeries performed increased from 67 to 682. Visits were made to the other eye care providers and optical shops in the city and an outreach screening clinic was observed too. Many visitors and organizations support Dr. Roney and Dr. Dominique and deserve recognition.

John Barrows, IEF Director of Programs

Hospital Justinien

Dr. Marlyse Dominique

Dr. Guerline Roney

Outreach screening

Down town Cap-Haitien

Painting of an eye chart

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gender and Eye Health

Leading US-based eye care NGOs held a briefing, “Seeing Women: Taking on Gender Inequities in Global Blindness Prevention,” at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on April 30, 2009 exploring links between gender and blindness, poverty, disability and education. NGOs and groups advancing the rights of women presented case studies and effective strategies that work in improving access to eye care services for women and girls

“Globally, women bear a greater burden of blindness than men,” said Victoria Sheffield, President, International Eye Foundation. “Clear evidence from developing countries shows that women receive fewer eye care services in part because eye care programs are not tailored to meet the needs of women and second, cultural and social barriers exist at the community level.”