FREDERICK AFUM ASARE
Frederick is an Optometrist with the Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, who works at the Bongo District Hospital in the Upper East Region of Ghana where he serves as both the Head of the Eye Department and as the district representative for Operation Eye Sight Universal (a non-governmental organisation involved in eye care). According to Frederick, while growing up, blindness and illnesses were broadly interpreted and attributed to spiritual and superstitious beliefs in his environment which prevented many, especially the aged, from seeking eye care services on time and appropriately. As a result, many of these people were left blind from preventable and avoidable causes. However, through his collaboration with Operation Eye Sight Universal in 2016, he started embarking on community outreaches within the district where he identified people with operable cataracts and organized them for surgery with the help of the regional Ophthalmologist. “The smiles on their (cataract patients) faces after cataract surgery was always heartwarming and that inspired me to delve more into Public Health for Eye Care which I believe would equip me with in-depth knowledge and skills in providing more of such services”.
After successful completion of the Master’s in Public Health for Eye Care programme, Frederick aspires to return to the Bongo District of Ghana and institute and integrate community outreach and school eye health programmes into the health system, train primary health care workers (community nurses) on how to provide primary eye care services to the rural populace and liaise with INGOs to equip the primary health centres with basic eye care equipment for eye care services.
Kennedy Ugochukwu Nwachukwu
Dr Kennedy Ugochukwu Nwachukwu is an ophthalmologist with the department of ophthalmology in University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), Nigeria. He practiced in rural settings as a junior medical officer for few years after his Housemanship, before proceeding to do his specialist training in Ophthalmology, with the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria and the West African College of Surgeons. He has special interest in Paediatric Ophthalmology, so has been working mainly in the Paediatric and Strabismus unit of UCTH. He intends to do further sub-specialization in Paediatric Ophthalmology. Dr also has passion for clinical training and research, which he shows by being actively involved in teaching medical students and younger colleagues. He would love to contribute to improving quality ophthalmic training in his best capacity in Nigeria.
He was delighted to get this great opportunity to do Public Health for Eye Care course in the prestigious London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He is confident that this will enhance his knowledge and capacity to improve services to the underserved rural populations in Nigeria and increase the much needed advocacy skills for more governmental involvement in standard and quality ophthalmic training and research in his country. He will love to add to the needed manpower in paediatric ophthalmology especially in the area of Retinopathy of Prematurity where he chose to do a study for his Masters’ project.
Dr Denise Kavuma is a Ugandan ophthalmologist who has worked in both rural and urban communities, as well as in private and public sectors. She first gained interest in eye care while working in Entebbe, Uganda. During this period, she saw countless patients with worsening eye diseases who could not afford to travel and see the nearest ophthalmologist an hour away. This left her feeling helpless. Never hesitating in facing challenges however, Denise decided to become an ophthalmologist herself. During her residency training at Mbarara University of Science and Technology, it became clearer to her how large the burden of visual impairment is globally, especially in Sub-Saharan countries like Uganda. In comparison, becoming an ophthalmologist felt like providing one drop of water to an arid land and for this very reason, she sought training in Public Health for Eye Care.
Denise expects that the knowledge and skills she gained in this course will enable her to reduce the burden of eye disease in the communities for which she will be responsible. Having always been a proponent of cascading knowledge, Denise is also particularly interested in education. While she anticipates that she will have several opportunities to pass on the knowledge and skills she has gained from LSHTM to her students and colleagues, she also hopes to carry out research on eye care education in Uganda and Sub-Saharan Africa, in order to ensure integration and excellent provision of primary eye care from all health workers.
Denise believes in developing skills in as many areas as she can. While she is primarily passionate about healthcare and the related research, she also writes both creative fiction and non-fiction and has been published in different literary media. This urge to write manifests from her desire to share knowledge. Indeed, Denise believes that reducing the burden of eye disease in Uganda is a journey and while she joined this excursion, years ago, studying this Masters is but one step of several more to come.
Sophia is a trainee ophthalmologist working at the Jos University Teaching Hospital in Plateau state, Nigeria. Her interest in Ophthalmology developed during her posting in Medical School. The overwhelming joy and satisfaction people have when they not only regain their sight, but also their livelihood, is indeed thrilling. This became a motivation for her to contribute towards promoting eye health care and preventing blindness in Nigeria, and to gain the necessary training to improve the management of patients with avoidable blindness resulting from Cataract, Glaucoma and Neglected Tropical Diseases among others.
Public Health for Eye Care became an important choice for her when she enrolled in online courses organized by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. After being exposed to a profound knowledge of the magnitude of blindness and visual impairment, she was determined to obtain the required skills employed in assessing public health control strategies to strengthen service provision for major eye diseases in Nigeria, as well as to acquire the training and technical knowledge needed to design and implement eye care programmes that will reduce visual impairment in her country.
After completing the course, Sophia foresees that she will be involved in integrated community-based initiatives that will raise public awareness, generate demand for eye care services, and improve primary eye care services such as community directed treatment of neglected tropical diseases in affected areas.
Lily Kimetto is an optometrist from Kenya who completed her BSc in optometry and vision sciences at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology situated in western Kenya in the year 2016.
Her decision to study optometry emanated from the greater need of eye care services in her region. Most counties in Kenya have one eye hospital serving a population of over a million.
Optometry in Kenya is yet to be integrated in the health care and so having completed her BSc lily started working in the private set up which to her was less impactful to the blindness eradication initiatives and hence her decision to venture into public health for eye care two year after finishing her undergraduate. While working in the private sector Lily got a chance to work with Peek Vision Kenya on a volunteer basis. Peek vision is smartphone-based technology that can identify visual impairment and connect patients identified to health workers.
Lily hopes that skills acquired from the course will make her more resourceful in blindness eradication initiatives like Peek in her region as well as for her future research and academic endeavors.
Onyinye is an Ophthalmologist who lives and works in South-East Nigeria. Her interest in Ophthalmology was awakened in her mid-teens when she was diagnosed with lazy eyes (amblyopia) due to health system and cultural barriers to refractive error interventions. Her passion and interest grew over the years during under-graduate and post-graduate medical training to be involved in the delivery of sustainable primary eye care services in south-east, Nigeria to bridge the gap between urban-rural divide.
She understood the need of acquiring the necessary skills to carry out these tasks; consequently her gratitude to the Consortium and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust for providing the enabling platform at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to achieve her ambition. Onyinye was involved in a research in 2016 on school eye health needs and services within her locality; similarly her dissertation for the M.Sc. is on the risk factors for late presentation in Glaucoma in South-East, Nigeria.
She intends to use the skills and knowledge acquired from the course to advocate, plan and implement an integrated school eye health as well as a community directed participatory program in her local rural communities with particular interest on the established common causes of avoidable visual impairment in line with the vision of the global action plan – to create a world in which no one is needlessly visually impaired. Her overall vision is for these projects to be owned, implemented and financed by the communities in the long run.
Jiba is a second year Nigerian resident ophthalmologist training at the Jos University Teaching Hospital, Jos, Nigeria. Her first foray into the world of ophthalmology occurred when her grandfather had amaurosis fugax, she subsequently found further interest during her undergraduate training.
As she started residency training, she discovered that many of the patients who attended the clinic had visual impairment from largely avoidable causes such as cataract and trauma, mostly due to poor knowledge and lack of funds. While attending the Community Eye Health course organized by the West African College of Surgeons in 2018, she was introduced to the importance of the public health aspect of ophthalmology, having had a taste, she wanted to learn more (as the course was for only 5 weeks), she was told about the MSc. Public Health for Eye Care at the prestigious London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and decided to apply to the school for the programme.
Jiba believes that the MSc. Public Health for Eye Care will provide her with knowledge and skills on ways to tackle visual impairment in her community, and the country at large especially through research.
Dr. Joseph Ogaga is a Nigerian resident ophthalmologist who has been practicing at Benue State University Teaching Hospital for the past 3 years. He graduated from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, and before starting residency in ophthalmology, he practiced general medicine in both rural and urban settings for 3 years.
While practicing in rural areas, he came to understand how difficult it is for rural dwellers to access eye care services. He started to develop interest in public health ophthalmology, and he applied to study Public Health for eye care at LSHTM where he hopes to attain the knowledge and skills necessary to increase access to eye care in rural areas. Thanks to the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium and the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee trust for making this possible.