Africa, Ethiopia: Childhood blindness
Helen Dimaras on behalf of Toronto Addis Ababa Academic Collaboration (The Hospital for Sick Children), Canada

Aim

The first pediatric ophthalmology fellowship program in Ethiopia.

The project

In Ethiopia, 1.2 million people are blind. Of these, 6% are children, 90% of whom have avoidable causes of blindness. A critical component to tackle this problem is the establishment of a rigorous and sustainable pediatric ophthalmology fellowship training program in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa University (AAU) currently has a robust ophthalmology residency program, but residents have limited exposure to pediatric cases. The establishment of a pediatric ophthalmology fellowship program at AAU will provide much needed specialty training in childhood eye disorders. Such a fellowship curriculum has been developed via an existing educational partnership between the University of Toronto (UofT) and AAU. Called the Toronto Addis Ababa Academic Collaboration (TAAAC) and spanning several clinical specialties, it aims to enhance postgraduate medical training and reduce 'brain drain'. Local clinical and surgical training will be supplemented by on-site visits by UofT faculty and telemedicine education portals.

This project is concerned with the implementation of pediatric ophthalmology training for the first cohort of fellows. The objectives of the project are to establish a telemedicine training portal to connect AAU and UofT faculty; conduct five on-site 2-week disease-specific training modules led by UofT faculty, to supplement training by AAU staff; and conduct five telemedicine-mediated training units to complement each 2-week on-site training module.

The project is embedded within the largest academic training/medical school in Ethiopia with a local program director who will lead the fellowship, and graduating fellows will ideally become future fellowship preceptors, ensuring sustainability. In other programs, this TAAAC model has proven that locally driven post-graduate medical education programs, initially nurtured through regular involvement of UofT partners, can grow to be sustainable and function on their own.

Website of organisation: http://taaac.com

The SickKids and University of Toronto team visits
the Pediatric Eye Care Centre at Menelik II Hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Exploring the eye clinics at Menelik II Hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Pediatric Ophthalmologists Dr. Asim Ali and Dr. Sadik Sherief Dr. Helen Dimaras gives a lecture on retinoblastoma. Dr. Asim Ali demonstrates surgical techniques with Dr. Sadik Sherief The Fellowship Development team meets to design the pediatric ophthalmology The Children's Eye Care Center at Menelik II Hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.