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Increasing Access to Sight-Saving Surgery in Western Tanzania

Sometimes a little support can go a long way. Bugando Medical Centre in Western Tanzania serves 16 million people but could not perform cataract surgeries on site for lack of an operating microscope. The ophthalmologist would have to transport the patient, staff and supplies to another hospital, perform the surgery, then transport them back to Bugando.

In late 2016, through Seva's Global Sight Initiative, the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO) provided Bugando Medical Centre with funds for an operating microscope. KCCO is the largest organization in Africa dedicated to reducing blindness through community ophthalmology training, and Seva supports its capacity-building efforts by providing training and other resources. KCCO also supports outreach to rural areas to identify people who would benefit from cataract removal; provides surgical supplies; and makes counseling available to help reduce people's fear of surgery and overcome other barriers to treatment.

In the entire year before working with KCCO, the ophthalmology team at Bugando performed 27 cataract surgeries. In the first few months of 2017 alone, armed with their own microscope and other support from KCCO, they had already doubled that number.

"An operating microscope is such basic equipment, without which the program cannot function."
- PETER KILEO, KCCO Program Manager

Above: Dr. Evarista and Mrs. Rosemary, respectively the ophthalmologist and program manager at Bugando Medical Centre's Eye Department, have seen huge improvements in surgical productivity since partnering with Seva through the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology.

Above: Dr Evarista with operating microscope.

Above: Dr Evarista in surgery, Tanzania.

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