PhD Fellows

Dr Ada Aghaji

Ada AghajiDr Ada Aghaji is a Paediatric & Community Ophthalmologist at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu in South East Nigeria, and a lecturer at the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria. In addition, she is the zonal coordinator of the Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria, Southeast zone.

After working for over 10 years as a clinic-based ophthalmologist, which included seeing eye patients presenting too late to be helped, Dr Aghaji has been looking for creative ways to make eye care affordable and accessible in rural areas.

She is passionate about access to eye health services especially for women and children living in rural and underserved regions in Nigeria. She has spearheaded a key informant survey to identify and treat childhood blindness in rural areas in Southeast Nigeria. Earlier in the year she undertook a Sabbatical at the National Primary Health Care Development Agency in Nigeria and is working with colleagues to develop an eye care policy for Nigeria that will increase access to eye care.

She is currently a PhD Research Student under the sponsorship of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust’s Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium at the International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The aim of her research is to improve access to eye care through the development of Primary Eye Care in Nigeria.


Dr Simon Arunga

Simon Arunga

Background: I trained as a general doctor at Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda in 2008 and completed a Masters in Medicine as an Ophthalmologist in 2014.

I now work as a Clinical Lecture and Ophthalmologist at Mbarara University and Referral Hospital Eye Centre. My role mainly involves patients’ management, residency training coordination and research. I have started on a PhD project with the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium at the International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, to investigate the causes of corneal infections in Uganda, patient presentation pathways, diagnostic issues, the role of traditional eye medicine and outcomes. This will help us to identify preventative and early intervention strategies to improve outcomes and reduce corneal blindness in Uganda and East Africa.

Interests and aspirations: My research interests are Anterior Segment (front of the eye), with an emphasis on clinical research and public health promotion.

My aim is to remain with my local university as an academic; continue to conduct clinical research at a post-doctoral level; and, mentor younger residents and junior faculty in clinical research skills to help them appreciate the need, relevance and benefits of research. I hope to build a team of young African researchers to generate research projects which address local problems. I am a firm believer that Africans are able to innovate interventions for African problems as we can best understand our own challenges.

Clinically, I would like to develop my skills especially in anterior segment and cornea, and to network with mentors who can me help to start corneal transplant services in my country.

In the long term, I hope to get involved in leadership at my university, country ophthalmology association and at the College of Ophthalmology of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa where I will use my research background for advocacy and policy improvement in addition to research mentorship.


Dr Roseline Ekanem Duke

Roseline DukeDr Roseline Ekanem Duke is an Ophthalmic Surgeon and Paediatric Ophthalmologist, Teacher, and Researcher.

She is a Fellow of the West African College of Surgeons, and currently the Secretary General of the Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria and a researcher with the Calabar Institute of Tropical Disease Research and Prevention.

She heads the Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Unit of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Cross River State as well as Mercy Hospital Eye Center, Abak, Akwa Ibom State Nigeria. Dr. Duke has been the Consultant for child eye health/services for the Cross River State Eye Care Programme since 2002.

She is part of the training team for medical students, ophthalmologists in residency training as well as Fellows in the Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus programme of the Nigerian Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Society.

Her research participation includes areas of Human Genetics, Paediatrics including Eye & Vision research work.

She is currently undertaking a PhD as a Research Fellow of the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium at the International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The primary goal of her PhD research is to improve the quality of life and visual function of children with cerebral visual impairment. This will be done by obtaining evidence of effectiveness of habilitation intervention in children who have Cerebral Visual Impairment with Cerebral Palsy.


Dr Furahini Mndeme

Furahini MndemeDr. Furahini Godfrey Mndeme is a Paediatric Ophthalmologist, Lecturer and Head, Community Ophthalmology Centre at the Department of Ophthalmology, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre & Tumaini University. He is also a Fellow of the College of Ophthalmology of East Central and Southern Africa, and the Vice President of the Tanzania Ophthalmological Society.

Dr. Furahini is the cluster head for the Seeing is Believing Child Eye Health Program in Tanzania. The program was formed in 2012, and aims at reducing avoidable blindness and visual impairment in three East African countries (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania). To establish the existing situation of child eye health in the region, he was appointed Principle Investigator for the Seeing is Believing baseline survey in Tanzania and was involved in the process of developing the survey protocol.

Based on his background as an Educationalist, holding a degree of Bachelor of Science with Education BSc.(ed.), Dr. Furahini was appointed by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Tanzania to participate in curriculum development for the specialised module content for higher diploma & bachelor degree in Ophthalmic Nursing.

Dr. Furahini is currently performing his Clinical duties at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, one of the high volume paediatric ophthalmology clinical units in Tanzania. He also provides clinical and surgical training fellowships in paediatric ophthalmology and has attracted many international candidates including Togo, Ethiopia and Cameroon.

Five years of practice in paediatric ophthalmology in Tanzania has allowed Dr. Furahini to gain broad clinical knowledge and experience and has also revealed the major challenges in the management of paediatric eye diseases; late presentation; providing timely surgery for better outcomes and relative ignorance about preventable causes of congenital cataract.

He is currently undertaking a PhD as Research Fellow of the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium at the International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The primary goal of his PhD research project is to develop and validate an effective primary care based screening tool for detection of cataract in infants and neonates, determine the presence of intrauterine infectious causes and explore the effect of timing of congenital cataract surgery on visual outcome and nystagmus in Tanzania.


Dr Nyawira Mwangi

Nyawira MwangiDr Nyawira Mwangi is a research student at the International Centre for Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She is from Nairobi, Kenya, and received her education in Kenya, and later in the UK. Dr Mwangi’s background is clinical, and she has been working in a teaching setting, both at Kenyatta National Hospital and Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC). She is currently concentrating on administration and teaching roles, while coordinating ophthalmology training programs at KMTC/Ministry of Health. While working in this area she developed an interest in health systems management, particularly in relation to human resources for eye health. Dr Mwangi is currently undertaking a PhD as Research Fellow of the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium at the International Centre for Eye Health. The primary goal of her PhD research project is to investigate task-shifting for the management of diabetic retinopathy (DR).


Dr. Mapa Piyasena

Prabhath PiyasenaI am an ophthalmic medical officer and a volunteer community ophthalmologist from Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a lower middle income country, which has achieved a remarkable development in the health sector. However there are emerging public health problems which have not been addressed to date. I have undergone in-service training in general ophthalmology and vitreo-retina at the National Eye Hospital of Colombo; the leading eye care service provider to the nation. I have also successfully completed a Masters course in Public Health for Eye Care at the International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, which is a strong foundation for my public health-eye care career. In addition to my routine clinical activities of my institution, I have involved in research & development activities and community outreach programs delivering the benefits to communities who are in need.

During my training, I have observed that many people were presenting with blindness which could have been prevented or avoided at an early stage. One such condition is “Diabetic Retinopathy” which is an emerging epidemic in the country. The stories I have heard from those who have gone blind drove me towards searching for the ways of preventing similar scenarios in future. Therefore I became strongly determined to involve myself in blindness and eye care in my community with more emphasis on diabetic retinopathy. Furthermore, I realised that my country does require more resourceful and skilled personnel in this field, in order to strategically solve the problems. In this process of thinking, I applied for the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium – Research Fellowship program and was awarded funding to undertake a PhD at the International Centre for Eye Health. One of the aims for my research project is to develop a comprehensive diabetic retinopathy screening program for Sri Lanka, based on the knowledge and skilled gained in the fellowship training. Furthermore this will bring many benefits to the country and for the communities. I am strongly determined to work for the prevention of blindness globally in the future.


Dr Hillary Kipkemboi Rono

Hillary RonoDr. Hillary Kipkemboi Rono is an ophthalmologist and an eye coordinator for the three Counties of Turkana, West Pokot and Trans Nzoia in Kenya, where he has been the only ophthalmologist in charge of 2.5 million people. He undertook his ophthalmology training in Kenya and is a fellow of the Ophthalmological Society of Eastern Africa (FEACO). He also has a Masters degree in Public Health for Eye Care from the International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

After completing his ophthalmology training in Kenya, he volunteered to be the pioneer ophthalmologist in the Northwestern Kenya, a hardship area where no ophthalmologist wanted to work. Due to his determination and with support of partners, he has established Infrastructure and extensive human resource capacity for eye health such that his region is now an example to others in Kenya.  He is based at Kitale District Hospital, where he provides clinical and surgical services to patients, as well as training and mentorship to other eye workers and ophthalmology students on attachment.

Besides clinical duties, Dr. Rono is an eye care coordinator in this region, where there exists the highest burden of trachoma in Kenya. He is involved in blindness prevention activities as well as developing new innovations. He started the outreach model of treating cataract patients during trachoma outreach campaigns programs, now known as “TT plus”, and he has participated in all trachoma baseline surveys in Kenya. He is also a member of the Kenya Trachoma Task Force and national blindness prevention committees which provide policy direction in relation to Kenyan eye care. He volunteers his ophthalmological skills to the AMREF Flying Doctors service in East Africa and also acts as advisor to eye care partners involved in elimination of avoidable blindness in his region.

Since completing his ophthalmology training in 2006, Dr. Rono has achieved the following:

  • He was named the Eye Health Hero for Kenya in 2012 by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), awarded in Hyderabad, India
  • His journey as an ophthalmologist in Kenya was documented in the film “Double Joy”, used to promote eye care activities led by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.
  • He received a grant from Seeing is Believing and Standard Chartered Bank to pilot the use of eye care tools on smartphones (Peek: the portable eye examination kit) to detect visual impairment in Kenya schools. The Kenyan School Screening Study enabled vision screening of over 21,000 children in nine schools in two weeks. This successful project is now due for scale-up to reach all the schools in his County.

Dr. Rono is currently undertaking a PhD as Research Fellow of the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium at the International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to continue his work on Peek. He will be involved in two Peek research projects in Kenya whose aim is to investigate whether Peek can improve quality of eye services in eye clinics and also to determine if the same could increase access to eye care services in Kenya.


Dr Rajan Shukla

Rajan ShuklaDr Rajan Shukla has more than 21 years of experience in the health care sector, initially as an emergency care physician, then in health programme coordination, implementation and currently as an academic who believes in evidence-based strengthening of health systems, through practice, evaluation and research. His primary interests are improving access to essential health services and health care quality, with a special focus on promoting primary care and health equity. He believes in the need for responsive health systems, through establishment of community based approaches for increasing community participation in their own health and improving health system accountability. He is currently working on programs to improve access to services for prevention of blindness from diabetic retinopathy and retinopathy of prematurity by integrating eye care into diabetes care and neonatal care at primary and secondary care levels. He is currently undertaking a PhD as Research Fellow of the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium at the International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The primary goal of his PhD research project is to improve access to retinal examination for early detection of ROP at neonatal care units.


 

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