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HCP continues to expand in Sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest burden of avoidable blindness and visual impairment in the world. Our strength is building relationships with existing eye care providers to enhance training capacity and creating world-class infrastructure resulting in high-quality outcomes.

Quiha Zonal Hospital

HCP continues to provide critical support to the Quiha Zonal Hospital in Mekelle, Ethiopia, with a focus on high-volume, high-quality cataract delivery and training for ophthalmologists and mid-level eye care personnel.

On July 7, 2011, the newly expanded Quiha Zonal Hospital was inaugurated. Construction support was provided by Proyecto Vision, a Spanish NGO, and equipment and technical training was provided by HCP.

In the fall of 2011, the Himalayan Cataract Project, SightLife and ORBIS signed a memorandum of understanding outlining a five-year project to strengthen eye banking in Ethiopia. The three organizations have partnered with the shared vision of eliminating treatable corneal blindness in Ethiopia. Through the partnership, the organizations will work to strengthen the local eye bank, train and equip local corneal surgeons and provide Ethiopians with access to successful transplants.

In addition to equipment and training support, HCP Board Member Dr. Matt Oliva and HCP Affiliated Ophthalmologist Dr. Paul Imperia worked with program partners in Ethiopia during the course of 2011 to provide more than 1,750 sight-restoring surgeries and training at high-volume workshops. 

HCP also supported two high-volume cataract workshops at Quiha in 2010, one in January providing 727 surgeries, and one in July providing 950 surgeries.

HCP is also providing support for training eye care personnel from other eye hospitals throughout Ethiopia. In 2010, HCP sponsored three doctors and two ophthalmic assistants to train in modern cataract technique at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Kathmandu, Nepal. Following their Nepal training, these doctors participated in high-volume cataract workshops at Quiha before returning to their home hospitals.

In 2013, HCP supported seven eye care institutions that collectively screened more than 142,000 patients and provided 29,074 sight-restoring surgeries in a country with one of the highest rates of blindness.   

Ethiopia - 2013

Location Patients screened Cataract surgeries Other surgeries Total surgeries
Aira 11,615 n/a n/a 2,279
Arbaminch 30,109 1,821 1,099 2,920
Gondor 56,355 4,211 1,062 5,273
Harar 3,606 348 50 398
Jimma 28,051 2,252 3,059 5,311
Quiha 12,661 7,528 2,794 10,322
Woldiya n/a 1,035 1,536 2,571
TOTALS 142,397 17,195 9,600 29,074

Essential training for Ethiopian eye care professionals

“As a Fellow, I learned small incision cataract surgery technique and had the opportunity to do more than 60 small incision cataract surgeries in my one month stay in Nepal. I learned how to organize and monitor outreach events in resource-limited countries. I also had the opportunity to observe different surgical techniques including corneal, retina and glaucoma surgery at Tilganga. This training helped me to develop my surgical skills and confidence, especially in SICS and outreach management.”  

—Yewubnesh Hailu Somega, MD, of Arbaminch Hospital, Ethiopia, an HCP Fellow who received training in Small Incision Cataract Surgery (SICS) at Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Nepal.


Major cataract intervention in Ethiopia: Above, over 1,100 surgeries in 6 days in Woldiya, Ethiopia, in May 2012. Read more about the event. Footage shot by Eric Perlman.

Eye Care in Ethiopia: HCP coordinates eye care camps and brings change to the lives of villagers in Ethiopia.

Scenes from Ethiopia

When Dr. Matt Oliva was in Ethiopia for a high-volume cataract workshop in 2010, he was joined by a film crew from National Geographic Poland working on a program highlighting women around the world helping other women. The film crew was at Quiha Zonal Hospital to feature Dr. Yewubnesh, a former HCP Fellow. Follow this link to see more images from National Geographic Poland.

  • Photos from Ethiopia.
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HCP in Ethiopia

“Return of the Light”: Six minutes of transformative healing, gratitude and joy. By Eric Perlman.

“Vision: Healing The Blind in Ethiopia”: Told from the patient’s point of view, this video shares stories of rural Ethiopians who regain their vision—and the broad impact it has.

Postcards from the Field: Images and notes from July 2014 in Ethiopia. Click to view.

“Future challenges are considerable but our opportunity to effect change in this region are massive. I met a large cadre of young, bright ophthalmologists and nurses eager for improved supplies, equipment, training, and to participate in outreach.” —Dr. Matt Oliva, Himalayan Cataract Project Board Member