The ESCRS, working with ORBIS, is helping to fund sub-speciality teaching in Ethiopia

A total of E33,500 was donated by the ESCRS to the ORBIS and Oxfam charities in 2011.

A total of E33,500 was donated by the ESCRS to the ORBIS and Oxfam charities in 2011. Funds were initially raised from delegates when registering for the 15th ESCRS Winter Meeting in Istanbul, Turkey and the XXIX ESCRS Congress in Vienna, Austria. Additional funds were raised from a raffle at the Vienna Congress. The ESCRS Board also pledged to donate E25,000 from the society's funds. The amount donated to each charity in 2011 was E16,750 and new fundraising activities are already being planned for 2012. As part of this project, money donated by the society to ORBIS is helping to fund paediatric training for Dr Mulusew Asferaw, an ophthalmologist working in the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Gondar, Ethiopia. "Before I joined this department," Dr Asferaw told EuroTimes, "I had worked as a general medical practitioner in Debretabor and Bahirdar hospitals. After a couple of years of practice in the Eye Department of Gondar University Hospital, I joined Addis Ababa University for my four years postgraduate study in ophthalmology," he said "Immediately after completion of my residency programme, I resumed my work in the Department of Ophthalmology with the position of assistant professor. Because of my interest in paediatric ophthalmology I started practising in the child eye care service in Gondar University Hospital and currently I am in charge of the Paediatric Ophthalmology Unit. The most commonly seen childhood eye diseases include paediatric cataract, refractive errors, strabismus and eye infections," said Dr Asferaw.

The first part of Dr Asferaw's sub-speciality training took place in November 2011 when an ORBIS volunteer, Dr Donal Brosnahan, an Irish ophthalmologist, carried out a 10-day training programme at Menelik Hospital in Addis Ababa that was attended by Dr Asferaw. This was paid for out of the ESCRS funding. "After this training," said Dr Asferaw, "my expertise in paediatric eye surgery has markedly improved and the number of paediatric patients examined at the Outpatient Department and those receiving eye surgeries has significantly increased. This has prevented us referring paediatric patients to eye care centres in the capital city in search of better eye care services," he said. Dr Asferaw points out that the impact of childhood blindness in Ethiopia is such that children who became blind in early childhood will suffer many years of blindness. "This creates a burden to the members of the family and has an adverse economic impact in the country," he said. "If we are able to detect childhood eye disorders early and give appropriate and timely intervention, we can avoid unnecessary childhood blindness, enhancing the growth and development of the next generation. It is because of this objective that I choose to study paediatric ophthalmology," he said.

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