The first Ophthalmology Centre of Excellence in Sub Saharan Africa will be set up in Rwanda this year, it has emerged.
According to Prof Geoffrey C.Tabin, the Co-Director of Himalayan Cataract Project (USA), one of the funders, the Rwanda Institute of Ophthalmology centre will be second to none in Africa.
“It will be absolutely state of the art…the centre will have an eye bank as well. It will be offering top quality cornea and cataract surgery. It will help prevent blindness and help regain sight in Rwanda,” Tabin said.
He added that there is no functioning eye bank in Sub-Saharan Africa but once this centre is established, it will be the first offering in-depth quality eye care .
Tabin, the man behind the donation of the 10 cornea extracts implanted in the eyes of some of the vulnerable Rwandans, free of charge, for the past one week, said that it was difficult to ship cornea from the USA to Rwanda.
He said that one cornea costs US$3,000 which is quite expensive stressing that once the Centre of Excellence starts operating in Rwanda; there would be no need to import from the USA.
The Professor disclosed that funding for the centre is already in place but they are just looking for a place to set up.
“It will cost US$4.8 million to establish this centre. We already have the funds, so we hope to start operating within a period of six months,” he added.
Dr. John Nkurikiye, an Ophthalmologist at both King Faisal Hospital and Rwanda Military Hospital, said the centre would improve eye care care and reduce the plight of blindness in the country.
There are about 50,000 people who are blind in both eyes according to Nkurikiye, saying this could be cured through surgery.
Himalayan Cataract Project (USA), Fred Hollows Foundation (Australia) and Mowlsdale Foundation (Scotland) will fund the centre.