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Dr. Seth Wanye has dedicated his career to improving eye care in rural regions of his home country of Ghana.
Dr. Seth and a team of eye care professionals from the Tamale-based Friends Eye Centre recently provided cataract surgeries in the Volta region, completing a total of 1,431 surgeries — exceeding their initial goal of 1,300 — over the course of six weeks. They began the outreaches in Keta and continued on to Akatsi, Aflao, Dzodze, Adidome, Ho, and finally to Hohoe to reach patients in need.
Dr. Seth’s motivation for his career in ophthalmology draws deeply from his father’s difficulties in receiving essential eye care, which eventually resulted in his father going blind.
When Dr. Seth was a teenager, his father had to wait six months before he was able to receive medical care for an issue with one of his eyes. He then had to wait another six months for care for his second eye. His father must now wear aphakic glasses. Aphakia is a condition in which the lens of an eye is missing, and Dr. Seth’s father cannot see without the glasses.
In sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated that there is only one ophthalmologist for every million people — Dr. Seth wants to change that.
“I experienced first hand how [my father’s] devastating condition affected the entire family,” explains Dr. Seth on how his father’s struggles impacted his perspective on access to quality eye care.
“As I do my work as an ophthalmologist in remote areas in Ghana and serving the poor, I see a lot of people who are in a similar situation as my family found itself in more than three decades ago,” Dr. Seth said. “I see a great connection with my father’s experiences as I treat patients.”
Patients who have made lasting impressions on Dr. Seth include children who had stopped going to school because of cataract blindness. “After surgery, several years later, they come back to see me and say ‘I am now in the university,’ or ‘I am working, thank you doctor.’”
Dr. Seth began his journey to help patients at medical school in Moscow where he met a priest, Father Norman Meiklejohn, from Massachusetts who sponsored his residency. Thanks to Father Meiklejohn, Dr. Seth is committed to providing surgery to his fellow Ghanaians and is one of the highest-volume cataract surgeons in the country.
“I wouldn’t have become an ophthalmologist if not for the help of [Father Norman Meiklejohn]. What he told me was: ‘I am helping you so that you can go back home and help your people.’” Influenced by the words of his sponsor and his family’s struggles, Dr. Seth established Friends Eye Center where he is able to bring care to vulnerable people.
Dr. Seth is thankful for the many organizations that provide support to Ghana’s eye care systems including Ghana Health Service, HCP Cureblindness, Lifetime Wells Ghana, Operation Eyesight Universal, Unite for Sight, Swiss Red Cross, Ghana Red Cross and many others that help Ghanaian ophthalmologists reach under-resourced communities.
Dr. Seth is optimistic about the future of eye care in Ghana and believes that the dedicated Ghanaian eye care professionals will continue to improve access to quality care to help those in need.