According to Gondar Ethiopia Eye Surgery (GEES), Ethiopia trains four to seven surgeons a year, but they are often recruited from outside the country.

By Joyce Meyer (Global Sisters Report) |

By 6:30 in the morning, the doors of St. Louise Eye Clinic in Mekelle, Tigray region of Ethiopia are wide open for service. People of all ages are lined up waiting their turn for examinations or procedures at this clinic run by the Daughters of Charity. Sister Hiwot, director of the clinic, has organized the program of Dr. Vito Mariella, a Spanish eye surgeon and Dr. Berrhan Mekonnen, an Ethiopian cataract surgeon on staff for their long day’s work. Dr. Mariella is a volunteer from Proyecto Vision, a Spanish organization that rotates eight teams of ophthalmologists every four weeks to the clinic. It is such a popular place for the volunteers that one of them has come 22 times to work with the sisters.

Proyetcto Vision has partnered with St. Louise Eye Clinic for many years, and as Sister Hiwot toured me around the facilities she pointed out the operating rooms and a sterilization center they have provided. Along with doctors and equipment, the organization sometimes sponsors children with special problems for treatment in Spain so that appropriate follow-up can be monitored. Along with doing surgery procedures, the volunteer doctors also train local staff in best practices of assisting and also in using the equipment.

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According to Gondar Ethiopia Eye Surgery (GEES), Ethiopia trains four to seven surgeons a year, but they are often recruited from outside the country. There are more Ethiopian eye surgeons in Washington, D.C., than in Ethiopia. This leaves the population extremely underserved, sometimes only one or two surgeons for 4 million people.

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2 Responses

  1. Junior Helstrom

    So, what is the future sustainability of this service in this region of Ethiopia, a question on all donors’ minds? Sister Hiwot identified some of them, with quality service as number one. She also realizes that local donors need to be tapped because international sources are decreasing and collaboration with other groups to address the issues of blindness and limited vision together is imperative. The government also needs to recognize the services of the sisters and assist rather than add obstacles to providing these needed services for the Ethiopian people.

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