Women’s History Month: Highlighting Women Advancing Eye Care in Their Communities

To date, HCP has supported 1,007 training opportunities for women from 14 different countries including training for ophthalmologists, residents, nurses, and allied health professionals. In recognition of Women’s History Month, we would like to highlight some of the amazing professionals with whom we partner to eliminate needless blindness.

We want young girls to see themselves in today’s eye care leaders so that they will be inspired to become tomorrow’s leaders. We envision a world where training and career opportunities are available to people with a desire to make a positive impact on their communities, wherever they may live.

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we would like to highlight some of the amazing professionals with whom we are privileged to partner to eliminate needless blindness.

Dr. Ciku Mathenge, an ophthalmologist in Rwanda, has been involved with HCP for many years and has dedicated countless hours to improving training opportunities in her region.

In reflecting on her work, Dr. Ciku explains, “this year International Women’s Day fell in the middle of World Glaucoma Week, giving me a chance to think about not only the problems that women with glaucoma face but also about the role of women in managing glaucoma.

“Women in my region have significant lack of access to health information and will therefore have very little information about glaucoma, including how it is diagnosed and managed. The primary health care system has many female health workers who can be trained to deliver health messages on glaucoma, close to communities. In my role as an educator, I would like to increase the profile of ophthalmology as a specialty that is very suitable for women and then slowly advocate for some of them to pursue glaucoma as an area of professional focus.”

Dr. Kumale Tolesa Daba is a pediatric ophthalmologist and associate professor at Jimma University in Ethiopia. With HCP support, she completed a pediatric fellowship at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in 2017, and in 2019, she completed her sub-specialty training in Cape Town at the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital.As a result of her training, Jimma University has been able to perform more surgeries in-house instead of referring patients to other hospitals, which in turn provides more training opportunities for junior surgeons at Jimma.

Dr. Mercy Dawson is the Volta Region zonal leader for the National Cataract Outreach Program (NCOP) in Ghana. Dr. Mercy recently traveled to the Eastern Regional Hospital in Koforidua for an NCOP-affiliated surgical outreach. During the event, Dr. Mercy and the team completed 447 cataract surgeries over four days. NCOP-affiliated surgeons visit this hospital several times a year to treat patients. An accomplished physician, Dr. Mercy has worked with Koforidua Regional Hospital andSt. Dominic Hospital, and routinely attends NCOP outreach events.

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