Restoring Sight in Zimbabwe

HCP Partners with Zimbabwe Medical Project and Rotary Club to provide cataract surgeries in Victoria Falls

Himalayan Cataract Project partnered with Zimbabwe Medical Project and Rotary Club to conduct a cataract surgical campaign in Zimbabwe at the end of February with HCP Affiliated Ophthalmologist Dr. Huck Holz and International Fellow Dr. Eric Hansen. The event consisted of two operating days, one in Bulawayo and one in Victoria Falls, with a total of 108 patients receiving surgery.

The Zimbabwe Medical Project managed the screening in advance of the surgical campaign in peripheral clinics and in Victoria Falls proper. The patients were bussed to Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo, a Catholic hospital with 4 operating theaters and well-trained and motivated staff, for surgery. In Victoria Falls, the surgeries took place at the public Victoria Falls Hospital in a makeshift operating theatre, where the team was able to complete 40+ surgeries as planned. Visiting surgical staff provided hands-on training and teaching throughout the campaign, and prior to the surgical outreach, Dr. Hansen lectured at the University of Bulawayo’s ophthalmology department.

Zimbabwe is a country of 14 million people with the prevalence of blindness estimated at 1% and the cataract backlog estimated between 62,000-70,000. There are approximately 30-40 ophthalmologists in the country, though most are concentrated in the capital of Harare, with very few trained subspecialists, paramedical and midlevel ophthalmic care providers in the country. Special thanks to Phil Mitchell, the Zimbabwe Medical Project Team and the Rotarians whose support during this mission was instrumental to its success.

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