OCT 2013

EyeWorld is the official news magazine of the American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery.

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28 EW NEWS & OPINION October 2013 Training continued from page 27 Dr. Assefa: Help with training more ophthalmologists is very important. Currently, we are training post-graduate residents, but in order to meet the standards of other international programs, we need the necessary equipment and technology. And to have this technology, we need partners that will support our department, like the ASCRS Foundation. We also need the assistance of other companies and industry partners that would be willing to contribute to our department through channels established by our partners. Dr. Chang: How many people are in your ophthalmology department? Dr. Assefa: When I started, it was just me in the department, but now we have five staff ophthalmologists and 16 optometrists. We are currently training nine residents in post-graduate ophthalmology, as well as resident optometrists who will function as primary eyecare workers in our country. Our eye hospital is different because it is a tertiary center and offers subspecialty as well as general ophthalmology. We provide primary care, but also have subspecialty care for cornea, retina, and glaucoma and pediatric ophthalmology. Our tertiary center must provide for the population of 18 million people in northwest Ethiopia. Dr. Chang: How many cataract surgeries are performed annually at Gondar? Dr. Assefa: We currently do nearly 3,000 cataract surgeries annually. However I believe that this number is still insufficient compared to the catchment population we serve, and we hope to increase this number to between 4,000 and 5,000 in 2013. Dr. Chang: All of your staff ophthalmologists are very proficient with manual ECCE. Why do you want to learn phaco, and what has been the biggest challenge in learning phaco so far? Dr. Assefa: You are correct that they are very proficient with manual small incision cataract surgery. However we still need to be able to perform phaco because certain types of cataracts are difficult to remove with the manual technique. Although phaco is more expensive there is a segment of the population that would pay for phaco, and this revenue would help to support surgery for poorer patients. The biggest challenge is the steep learning curve and having to learn by operating on patients. Having the Kitaro kit (FCI Ophthalmics, Marshfield Hills, Mass.) and the synthetic nuclei for hands-on practice is making the training much easier for both staff ophthalmologists and residents. Dr. Chang: Have the trips to Gondar made by visiting faculty been helpful so far? Dr. Assefa: The visits from American ophthalmologists have been tremendously helpful for teaching phaco and general cataract surgical skills to us. We were privileged to be taught through both wet labs and live surgery by a top cataract surgeon, such as you. The experience, knowledge, and surgical skills that visiting faculty have shared with us will allow us to better teach the next generation of Ethiopian ophthalmologists. EW Contact information Assefa: assefabi2003@yahoo.com

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