The Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Gondar (Ethiopia) Eye Surgery (GEES)

Author - Sandy Holt-Wilson

Gondar (Ethiopia) Eye Surgery (GEES) is a registered charity 1101246. Since my 5 months in Gondar as their eye surgeon in 2001 and since realising that there were 350,000 people in Ethiopia totally blind waiting for cataract surgery, with the support and interest of Gondar University I wrote a Project Proposal to train nurses to become cataract surgeons. There are at present only about 15 eye surgeons willing and financially able to work in the rural areas to tackle the above problem.

With Rotary support we wrote a curriculum and financed $50,000 worth of equipment for the University. This is now being delivered and the first intake of cataract surgeon nurses (BSc) has started work. The big charity Orbis has become interested in this work and supports Gondar adding in the country’s first opticians training.

To accommodate this extra interest GEES has drawn the plans for a new eye department that will probably cost £300,000. This is being finally costed and put out to tender. Half the money has been put forward by an Austrian ophthalmic charity. The remainder we are looking for. This will include a virtual reality cataract surgery simulator (£50,000) which will allow students (including those from other parts of the country) to practice their skills endlessly before starting with patients. The expense after this will be to finance travel for expatriates to take part in the side by side training in Gondar, and following on from that will be the equipping of appropriately placed clinics. The need is greatest in Amhara and in the Southern Nations, although of course other areas, e.g. Afar, have virtually no services, but their populations are that much smaller.

We have had wonderful support over the last few years from people within the Anglo-Ethiopian Society and I have tried to keep them informed individually as to what we are doing.

The University President in Gondar has initiated the suggestion that the eye department (rebuild) library and resource centre should be named the Prince Alemayou library, which will give an opportunity to put copies of his photos etc on semi public display. There are a lot of possibilities. Perhaps more of these specific projects should be encouraged by Department for International Development (DFID) or the Embassy. Ideas please!!

Sandy Holt-Wilson
Cefn Maen Farm,
Usk Road,
NP15 2HR

Tel: 01291 690428

First Published in News File Summer 2006

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