Besides the many challenges of poverty, there are simply not enough eye doctors to go around. Only about one in ten people blinded by cataract ever receives surgery.
There is a desperate need for effective programs to train local people to provide eye care to their own communities.
In 2001, Seva helped establish the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO). KCCO is the only training institution for community ophthalmology in Africa dedicated to reducing blindness. It serves 18 eastern African countries with a population of close to 210 million, from Egypt to South Africa.
Since its inception in 2001, KCCO has helped many hospitals in Africa double or triple the number of people who have received sight-restoring surgery. The demand for training has grown so that doctors and other eye care professionals have come to KCCO from countries across the continent, Ghana to Eritrea to Madagascar.
Learn about Seva's childhood blindness program in eastern Africa
KCCO is unique in Africa in that it provides both training and mentoring for eye care programs. The centre provides public health training to ophthalmology residents, nurses, and medical officers. It has an ever-expanding network of community-based programs reaching out particularly to women, who are most at risk of blindness because they do not have access to care. KCCO is the global leader on the issue of gender equity and blindness.
In Africa, the rate of cataracts among children is 6 to 10 times higher than it is in Canada, yet children do not receive the services they need. KCCO is leading the way to ensure that children receive the best quality of surgery that will help them and their families lead full, happy lives.
Reducing blindness in Africa faces several challenges due to the shortage of trained personnel, lack of eye care systems, an aging population and barriers to access. The overall goal of Seva's work in Tanzania is to create an African model of training that will prepare eye health workers not only to provide quality care but also to address these obstacles.
To learn more about specific Gifts of Sight for Tanzania, click here.
To learn about Seva's new childhood blindness project in Malawi, click here.
Please contact Seva Canada by calling 604-713-6622 or email email@example.com to learn more about our major projects in Tanzania.
On November 4, 2008 KCCO will inaugurate its new three-story 25,700 square-foot training centre, at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro. The centre focuses on training, research and programme development, aimed at decreasing blindness in eastern Africa, using local talent and skills.
In a note of congratulations, Dr Hannah Faal, past president of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness praised the “focused investment being made in capacity building of Tanzanians” as a “unique feature” of the work of KCCO.
Funding for construction of the $1.2 million centre came from organizations and individuals from around the globe. Besides a new modern surgical operating theatre for treatment of eye conditions for the KCMC Eye Department, the training centre includes a large resource centre, lecture rooms, computer laboratory, and offices.
Originally envisioned to serve eastern Africa, the demand for training has grown so that doctors and other eye care professionals have come from countries across the continent, Ghana to Eritrea to Madagascar, as well as those closer to Tanzania. Some of the programmes assisted by KCCO have seen two and three-fold increases in eye care services being provided.
Dr. Paul Courtright and Dr. Susan Lewallen Win the 2008 International Blindness Prevention Award
Dr. Paul Courtright and his wife Dr. Susan Lewallen, founders and the co-directors of KCCO have won the prestigious International Blindness Prevention Award for 2008 from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
The AAO is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons, with more than 27,000 members worldwide. The International Blindness Prevention Award, established in 1992, honours “individuals who have made significant contributions to the prevention of blindness or restoration of sight”. The award will be presented to Drs Courtright and Lewallen on November 10 at the Academy’s Annual Meeting in Atlanta.
Dr. Courtright, an epidemiologist, and Dr. Lewallen, an ophthalmologist, are both on faculty in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Courtright is also on faculty in the Department of Health Care and Epidemiology. Dr. Courtright established and directed the British Columbia Centre for Epidemiologic & International Ophthalmology, helping UBC to gain a reputation of expertise in international ophthalmology, continued by Dr. Ken Bassett, the current director in Vancouver.
Currently Drs. Courtright and Lewallen live and work in Moshi, Tanzania, where they have established the highly successful Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO). KCCO, a unique institution in Africa, was founded in 2001 and is dedicated to reducing blindness in Africa.
On November 4, just prior to the presentation of the AAO award in Atlanta, KCCO will inaugurate its new three-story 25,700 square-foot training centre, at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro. The centre focuses on training, research and programme development, aimed at decreasing blindness in eastern Africa, using local talent and skills.
For more information about KCCO, visit www.kcco.net.
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