Eye doctors meet to discuss rural outreach

Eye specialists from eastern, central and southern Africa have converged in Kigali for the first regional meeting.

Eye specialists from eastern, central and southern Africa have converged in Kigali for the first regional meeting.

The workshop seeks to chart ways of increasing the number of professionals in the field.

Dr Ciku Mathenge, the head of the scientific committee at Rwanda Ophthalmologist Centre, said they face a big skills gap.

“We have 13 trained ophthalmologists in Rwanda and only three operate out of Kigali. This remains a challenge, but to increase the number of trained personnel, the Ministry of Health plans to put up a training centre,” he said.

Currently, Dr Mathenge said, the ministry pays for training of three specialists every year.

“We are few trained eye doctors in the country, yet, usually, the trained personnel are not near patients in emergency cases,” Dr Mathenge said.

He said the rate of blindness in Rwanda is at 0.5 per cent, with eye cataract being the major cause.

Dr Saiba Eugene Semanyenza, of the Kigali University Teaching Hospital, said medics in the country are trying their best to eliminate eye-related illnesses.

“We are overwhelmed with eye-related cases, but we are trying to eliminate them, especially the fungal and bacterial infections of the eyes,” Dr Semanyenza said.

Besides those from regional countries, the meeting also has specialists from Argentina, the US and Germany, among others.

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