New Fellowships Provide Opportunities
Training the next generation of eye care professionals is essential in the effort to address needless blindness. In Ethiopia, there is one ophthalmologist for every 1 million people and few training programs in the country to support the advancement of specialization for ophthalmologists.
HCP’s mission is to build sustainable eye health care systems that function effectively over the long-term with minimal external involvement. We provide top-rate education and training opportunities at all levels of ophthalmology by working closely with a variety of partner academic and training institutions and affiliated ophthalmologists who provide onsite skills transfer.
HCP has increased its emphasis on building ophthalmic capacity amongst fully trained ophthalmologists in the sub-specialties such as cornea, glaucoma, pediatrics, retina, and oculoplastics. Sub-specialty fellowships in the US include one to two years of additional continuous training after an ophthalmology residency has been completed. Training institutions that provide sub-specialty fellowships for ophthalmologists from low- to middle-income countries are limited; therefore, HCP supports “sandwich” fellowships, as an alternative. The “sandwich” fellowship includes training at multiple locations over a longer span of time.
For example, HCP’s main training facility for hands-on clinical and surgical training is the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Kathmandu, Nepal. HCP began supporting Tilganga in 1995 by supporting sandwich fellowships for its ophthalmologists, and now Tilganaga offers fellowships in all the sub-specialties to ophthalmologists from Nepal and other Asian countries.
Since 2008, HCP and other INGOs have sponsored Ethiopian ophthalmologists for short-term, sub-specialty training, both to advance individual skills and to lay the groundwork for Ethiopia’s teaching institutions to develop training programs.As a result of this support over time, Ethiopia’s largest teaching institution, the Addis Ababa University (AAU), affiliated with Menelik II Hospital, now offers formal fellowships in pediatrics and glaucoma and partial fellowships in cornea and oculoplasty. AAU faculty has committed to providing a 4-month modular training for Ethiopians in these two sub-specialties which will be complemented by a 5-month training at Tilganga and 3-month onsite training by an HCP Affiliated Ophthalmologist at Tilganga or overseas.
The “5-4-3” sandwich fellowship became official in December 2020 in an agreement between HCP and AAU after several years of discussion and planning. The first participants include Dr. Mulugeta Demise Yimer from St. Paul’s Millennium Hospital in Addis Ababa and Dr. Wolela Mulatu Aga from Jimma University. Dr. Yimer started on February 1st at AAU after already completing five months at Tilganga in 2019. Dr. Aga will start March 1 in Oculoplastics.
“I’m incredibly proud of the hard work on behalf of the staff at both HCP and AAU to make this happen, specifically AAU Head of Ophthalmology, Dr. Sadik Taju and Oculoplasty Fellowship and Residency Program Coordinator, Dr. Meseret Ejigu. This fellowship program represents a critical collaboration between multiple stakeholders including INGOS, all Training Institutes in Ethiopia and the Ethiopian government. It will not be long before AAU and other academic programs will be able to offer the full range of fellowships which will have a tremendous impact on alleviating unnecessary blindness. This is what keeps me motivated to do what I can to continue to support Ethiopia’s motivated and dedicated cadre of those working to strengthen Ethiopia’s Eye Care System. Good luck to Drs. Yimer and Aga.” - HCP Board Member and Ethiopia Clinical Director, Dr. Matt Oliva