February 2023: Ethiopia / Gashena: Comprehensive treatment of eye disease

Comprehensive treatment of eye diseases in Gashena

Sixteen years ago when Peter Bachmann was in Ethiopia for the first time, Getachew Aydagn, the then initiator of PBF in Lalibela, proposed a comprehensive survey on eye diseases. Unfortunately, the idea was not taken up, although the need was undisputed. Peter Bachmann, who was present in Gashena in January 2023, today clearly remembers this incident from the very first beginnings of PBF.

Ashenafi Mamo, who spent his childhood in the street dust of Lalibela and in extremely meagre conditions, is now admirably involved with his Middle Level Clinic in Gashena, a good hour’s drive from Lalibela. The Emmanuel Clinic has been treating eye patients for several years. As is well known, the rural population in this mountainous area has hardly any access to government health centres and is largely dependent on the services of our clinic. Especially the number of patients with eye diseases is considerable and steadily increasing.  As in previous years, the clinic management is organising extensive services with an ophthalmologist from Woldiya, Dr. Abreham. A first appointment was fixed for 6 January. Of the 145 registered, at least 65 could be examined.

A second appointment is planned for 15 February with for the treatment of more patients. At least 95 are expected…

The majority of the people, mostly elderly, suffered from so-called cataracts. Incidentally, this is one of the most common causes of blindness in Africa.   In addition, there are chronic conjunctivitis, trachoma, blepharitis, ocular fibrillation and glaucoma. For 37 patients, minor surgical treatment on site was sufficient, but 54 people needed more in-depth surgery and were referred to the eye clinic in Woldia and treated on 9 and 10 January. All costs for transport, medication and medical treatment were covered by PBF. In this first stage, our Emmanuel clinic was very effective in helping a total of 91 people with their eye condition.

The processing, logging and reporting put an additional strain on the seven-member team, and the preparations for the second round also require a considerable effort from the team led by Ashenafi , who founded this indispensable clinic while still a student over ten years ago.  He was barely 20 years old, the financial framework of PBF was already very limited at that time and the poverty of the population was bitter and threatening. Only thanks to a large donation from Switzerland are these additional activities possible. Thank you!



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