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“The Eyes are the lamp of our body. Everyone fears to be blind because losing sight will bring catastrophic effect to one’s personal, social and economic life”
In 2016, HCP provided training opportunities to 63 ophthalmic personnel from Ethiopia. We continue to increase eye care services in the country by building a network of skilled, dedicated eye care professionals providing accessible, high-quality cataract and ophthalmic care. Since 2008, HCP has trained 170 ophthalmic personnel working at all levels of eye care. One example of these success stories is Dr. Daniel Getaneh, a fourth year Ophthalmology Resident at Addis Ababa University (AAU), Menelik II Hospital.
Born in Adama, a.k.a Nazareth, a town approx 60 miles away from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Getaneh studied Medicine at Mekelle University, College of Health Sciences earning his Doctorate of Medicine (MD) in 2012. We would like to highlight Getaneh as he shares his story of deep dedication to ophthalmology and his work with the Himalayan Cataract Project.
“My Dad was one of the pioneer ophthalmic medical officer (OMA) in the country and he ignited deep rooted interest in me to study ophthalmology. This made my decision to continue my career in ophthalmology very easy. I stayed at Mekelle University, Department of Ophthalmology as Lecturer and started preparing myself for residency by working at Quiha Ophthalmic center (Mekelle University’s affiliated Hospital).”
I first met with the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP) members back in 2013 after I started working at Quiha Eye Hospital. I met with Dr. Matt Oliva, Dr. Geoffrey Tabin, Pamela Clapp, Job Heinz and Prof. David Chang on subsequent high volume and high quality cataract campaign services organized by HCP. Enthusiastic, humble and innocent individuals, I witnessed them relentlessly striving to upgrade the eye care services in Ethiopia.
HCP, together with Prof. David Chang promised to financially sponsor mine and two of my colleague’s (Dr. Haftamu Assefa and Dr. Almaz Kefey) residency and kept their promise. HCP’s all-round support and encouragement has made my residency enjoyable and fruitful. I have become the chief resident and successfully passed the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) Basic Sciences International examination successfully.
I had also the chance to participate at two HCP’s high volume and high quality cataract surgery campaigns at Arba-Minch and Axum along with Dr. Geoffrey Tabin, Dr. Yonas Tilahun (Consultant Ophthalmologist, AAU, Menelik II Hospital) and Dr. Tilahun Kiros (Quiha Hospital). In these campaign services, I was able to perform 204 cataract surgeries. As a resident this was a breakthrough opportunity to grow my surgical skills and see the true happiness of patients while getting their sight back. I believe there is nothing in this world that brings maximal personal satisfaction than giving people their sight back.
The Eyes are the lamp of our body. Everyone fears to be blind because losing sight will bring catastrophic effect to one’s personal, social and economic life. Especially those individuals residing in remote rural areas and unable to afford to reach eye centers are maximally affected; they not only lose sight but also lose hope. I have witnessed HCP targeting these unprivileged individuals and brought about remarkable and tangible difference in changing lives.
In Ethiopia, and in Africa at large, the burden of blindness we are witnessing today is just like the tip of an iceberg. The problem is deep rooted and even more exaggerated by lack of adequate number of ophthalmologists and eye care centers in addition to economic constraints. With this regard, HCP is playing pivotal role in manpower development, establishing and strengthening eye care centers in Ethiopia.
I would like to pass my deepest gratitude to all HCP members and supporters for the ‘life changing’ job you are doing in Ethiopia. And I encourage you to keep up all the good works you started.”