Successful Outreach in Mekelle, Ethiopia

Record-breaking high-volume outreach provides over 2,000 surgeries in one week

Partners at Quiha Zonal Hospital, led by local ophthalmologist Dr. Tilahun Kiros and HCP Co-Founder, Dr. Geoff Tabin provided 2,070 sight-restoring surgeries in just one week from March 23-30, in Mekelle, Ethiopia. This is the largest outreach HCP and partners have facilitated to date in the country, a milestone for Quiha Zonal Hospital, our longest-standing partner in Ethiopia. The hospital’s impact and eye care services in the region have grown exponentially as seen through the record-breaking number of surgeries for this outreach event. One 70-year-old man had been blind for five years due to scarring in one eye and a cataract in the other. When Quiha Hospital ophthalmologist and HCP campaign partner, Dr. Tilahun Kiros removed his patch postoperatively, the man instantly beamed and lunged forward for a bear hug.

Of the 2,070 surgeries performed, 1,618 were cataract surgeries. In addition to cataract, 410 trachoma trichiasis (TT) surgeries and 42 ‘other’ eye surgeries were performed as part of the outreach efforts. With a focus on strengthening eye care systems by (within countries and) training in-country personnel, HCP is able to address multiple diseases during an outreach campaign, even while prioritizing cataract.

The following is an update from the field by Dr. Tabin:

“In Mekelle, everyone wears all white so it was almost biblical seeing them coming to the hospital for surgery being led by sticks to then see them leave without assistance the next day. I have been working with our partners at Quiha Zonal Hospital, we completed a record number of sight-restoring cataract surgeries - I even beat a personal record with 525 in a week. We had five bilateral kids with congenital cataracts, they are seeing so well postoperatively a team of neuroscientists will be arriving next week to study the outcomes. It was a great overall team effort, I was the only western doctor with the team [Drs. Tilahun, Yonas, Hanasu, Haftamu, Saba and Hiwot] and the high-quality efforts highlight Quiha as a center for excellence in the country.”

The following memorable moments were also captured by Stanford Medical Student, Talhah Zubair.

“Quiha Hospital ophthalmologist and HCP campaign volunteer, Dr. Yonas performed bilateral cataract surgery on a 76-year-old woman who had been blind for seven years. Upon removal of her eye patches the next morning, she thrusted her arms up and exclaimed with joy, “It’s so bright! It’s so bright!” The other patients erupted in celebrative ululation around her.

HCP Co-Founder, Dr. Geoff Tabin performed bilateral cataract surgery on a 9-year-old boy who became completely blind at the age of three. When his patches were removed he quietly looked around through squinting eyes. When asked to touch Dr. Tabin’s nose, he shyly smiled, then reached out and did."

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