The Doctor with One Million Patients
Tanzania's Dr. Kuzenza
In the Singida Region of central Tanzania, one of the poorest in the country, a staggering 1.3 million people rely on the services of just one ophthalmologist: Dr. Ng'hungu Kuzenza. An incredibly committed eye doctor, Dr. Kuzenza works tirelessly to treat eye injuries, remove cataracts, and save the eyesight of people in need. But he is aware that a large number of people in his region, particularly those who are blind in very rural and remote areas, are unable to afford the journey to his clinic.
"The majority of people in our region are living hand to mouth through basic subsistence farming, and would have to travel as far as 100 miles to reach our hospital," explains Dr. Kuzenza "The next closest hospital with an eye unit is nearly 200 miles away."
Through Seva's Global Sight Initiative, and in partnership with the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO), Dr. Kuzenza's eye unit is the third regional hospital that Seva supports in Tanzania. This approach is all part of a concerted effort to provide comprehensive eye care services to as many Tanzanians as possible.
Thanks to Seva's support, Dr. Kuzenza and his staff are now developing a robust outreach program. One day a week, KCCO-trained outreach workers travel to remote parts of the region to conduct eye screenings and seek out patients who are blind from cataract and other treatable conditions.
"We are motivated to reach those in rural areas who cannot come to the hospital by themselves," says Dr. Kuzenza. In the past, "we had not been able to conduct outreach activities due to lack of funding. With Seva's support, this is now possible and many more people will be reached to receive treatment."
KCCO Tanzania Director, Edson Eliah, adds, "Singida hospital has a very limited budget compared to the need. With Seva's support, the people of Singida, especially those living in remote and hard to reach areas, will be able to access affordable eye care services at their door steps. The outreach team from Singida Regional Hospital will visit rural areas to offer complete eye care services, including provision of glasses and sight-saving surgeries to those in need." Mr. Eliah goes on to note, "Seva will also support staff training, capacity building, medicines, equipment, and transportation for staff and patients. The end result will be an improved well-being for the population."
"Restoring sight to those we serve is what motivates us. People come to the hospital who have not been able to see for two to ten years. We do a simple cataract surgery and the next day that person is able to see." remarks Dr. Kuzenza. "Seeing all the patients who have come a long way from remote villages leaving the hospital happy and satisfied is the most important thing for us."
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