Himalayan Cataract Project

While the ASCRS Foundation has worked in Ethiopia since 2005, only a small fraction of the country’s cataract blind have been treated at our Robert Sinskey Eye Institute. Through a partnership with the Himalayan Cataract Project, the ASCRS will help Ethiopia begin addressing its problems from within – by improving physician education and ultimately putting more surgeons in the areas where they’re most needed.

Ethiopia presents a special challenge. Only 80 ophthalmologists serve a population of 85 million, but with more than half of them clustered in the capital city of Addis Ababa, many of the country’s rural areas have no ophthalmic availability at all.

The ASCRS Foundation and HCP have identified three Ethiopian teaching programs with the potential to become key centers of excellence which can deliver the training needed to address the massive amount of cataract and corneal blindness in the country.

Residents from the main Addis residency program at Menelik hospital rotate to Quiha hospital in northern Tigray region, where they work with Dr. Tilahun Kiros, who is currently doing the highest volume of cataract surgery in Ethiopia, and perhaps all of Africa.

A second residency program and high-volume hospital at Gondor University serves a very poor and densely populated region in Northeast Ethiopia. A third residency with excellent surgeons is at Jimma University. Both of these residency programs need sub-specialty training and the means to prepare more ophthalmologists to address Ethiopia’s cataract needs.

Working with HCP, the ASCRS Foundation will work to increase support for these programs from within the ophthalmology community, and to provide the training, education, equipment and financial assistance needed to enable the programs to produce greater numbers of high-volume M-SICS surgeons. The foundation’s goal is to place more ophthalmologists in the country’s less-developed regions where they are desperately needed. Through a generous matching grant offer, former ASCRS President, David F. Chang, MD, will match all donations to the HCP initiative up to a total of $250,000.