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"I hope we can reduce the backlog of blindness and restore vision to those in need in Ethiopia. Not just cataracts, but all preventable and treatable blindness"
HCP is currently partnered with Ethiopia's Federal Ministry of Health and 12 institutions across the country and to provide high-quality, low-cost cataract surgery to patients who might otherwise have no access to eye care services. Our goal in the next year is to expand our partnerships and increase outreach in a continued effort to address the backlog of cataract blindness in Ethiopia, which is estimated at 600,000. Since 2008, HCP has directly supported 95 high-volume cataract campaigns resulting in over 48,000 cataract surgeries. Over a couple of those years, HCP has worked with Dr. Abraham Aregay, a Cataract Surgeon at Woldiya Hospital, who is known for his constant warm smile, quick hands and commitment to quality surgical outcomes.
Born in Northern Woldiya, in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia, Dr. Aregay received his training at Gondar University, graduating in 2011 and returning to Woldiya to work as a cataract surgeon. During his time at Gondar University he saw the potential in developing eye care systems in Ethiopia.
“I thought eye care was a good opportunity and was a public health concern that was important to Ethiopia.”
In the six years since Dr. Aregay graduated, he has done thousands of surgeries with no signs of stopping. Last year, over the course of several outreaches with HCP in Harar and Arba Minch, he performed approximately 5,800 surgeries! According toDr. Aregay, through his partnerships with HCP and other eye care NGOs, he has performed nearly 45,000 eye surgeries in total.
“I’ve done almost 35,000 cataract surgeries and even more, about 10,000 Trachoma Trichiasis, ocular masses, and other types of operations. My surgical numbers are so high because I value the partnerships and work to make myself available to all."
Dr. Aregay hopes to continue his work and in the future to have more training supported by HCP to increase his knowledge and achieve his goal of reducing the backlog of blindness in Ethiopia.
“I have interest in becoming an Outreach Program Coordinator and get training in Phaco (Phacoemulsification). If I have more knowledge, I can do more and help get more surgeries performed by trained in-country personnel. Through this effort I hope we can reduce the backlog of blindness here.”
At our most recent HCP supported outreach event from October 9 - 15 at Woldiya Hospital, Dr. Aregay performed hundreds of sight-restoring cataract surgeries. When asked about his most memorable surgery, Dr. Aregay smiled as he shared this memory.
“One of my first patients. He was 62 and had been blind in both eyes since he was 27 years old. He was a beggar before and since I removed his patches he has become a shop owner. He still walks as though he is blind because he didn’t see for half his life, but he comes to see me and I visit his shop. He reminds me of why I do this work.”