Behind the Scenes: Screening for High-Volume Cataract Campaigns

There is a lot of “behind the scenes” work that goes into preparing for an HCP-supported high-volume cataract surgical campaign. Local screening teams provide basic treatment and have an impact on communities before an outreach even begins. HCP Program Manager, Brendan Callahan, joined our local screening team in Hosanna, Ethiopia to identify patients for a cataract surgical event planned to begin there on February 17. Below is Brendan’s first-hand account of a screening for a surgical outreach campaign:

There were six 4WD vehicles with speakers loaded onto roof racks that headed out in various directions from Hosanna, Ethiopia to transport screening teams and mobilize people across different villages to attend upcoming screening events.

Each vehicle had not only the speaker but also a diesel-fueled generator to power it, a pre-recorded message to play as the trucks went through villages, as well as a microphone so that the driver could personalize the message.

All pre-recorded messages were in 4 different languages to ensure all tribes in the area could understand the message. Here is the track below:

Our vehicle, driven by Wube and loaded with EyeNetra, USee, and Retromax equipment as well as a screening team, went to Lera village where over 500 individuals were screened. The team checked for cataracts to refer patients to the upcoming campaign, and treated conjunctivitis with drops. They also sent individuals with refractive error into a room where they were screened on the E chart and then tested with the RetroMax and EyeNetra equipment to see what technology would provide a scalable option for measuring and distributing prescription eyeglasses in the future.

Of those screened, 69 were then given USee prescription glasses, and the Leyu Clinic donated cleaning cloths and showed patients how to use them to maintain their glasses. People of allages — from babies on mothers' backs to the elderly — were checked. At lunchtime, the room was cleared so that students and teachers could be screened and return back to school.

Photo of man speaking to the large group outside is Zelalem Adissu from our newest HCP partnership - Leyu Eye Clinic in Hossana

HCP’s 21 implementing partners in Ethiopia are working hard to reduce the backlog of cataract blindness - estimated to be over 800,000. In 2019, HCP partners provided over 23,000 surgeries through cataract surgical campaigns and are planning on 30,000 in 2020 - with an increased focus on distributing glasses to those who need them.

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