The main purpose of the Link between the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, UK and Menelik II Hospital, Ethiopia is to develop Menelik II Hospital’s capacity in providing eye care services, with particular emphasis on vitro retinal surgery and paediatric eye care.

100 years of difference

A striking difference between both hospitals at different levels of services and development can be seen. Eyaya Tarkegne, a senior professional Anaesthetist, and Bezuayehu Teferra, a general Nurse, went so far as to suggest a ‘one-hundred year gap’ in services and equipment between both hospitals. Bizuayehu and Eyaya visited Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 2010 and observed the services offered together with state of the art eye care equipment and abundant medical supplies. Eyaya says:

“The availability of different machines and the supply of the necessary drugs inhalation agents makes the life of the anaesthetist and the patient easier and operation is made easily from new born infants to adults. I have remembered my patients who [were] returned back from operation for lack of the appropriate medicine which are necessary to administer anaesthesia for [patients] with complication of health problems with chronic disease like hypertension, cardiovascular and diabetic diseases. I have seen and learned which drug to administer for these kinds of patients and I am confident that these kinds of administration and operation will be possible in the years to come.”

Narrowing the 100 years of difference

A number of exchange visits have been held by the hospitals. Dr. Abiye, a Menelik II doctor, was chosen by the link team to be trained in Paediatrics Glaucoma and visited Moorfields Eye Hospital for five weeks in late 2011. He observed how to manage paediatric glaucoma cases as well as adult glaucoma surgery. Following this trip, Dr. Abiye is now using the Moorfields technique of releasable sutures for trabeculectomy, and his residents have also started this approach. Plans are already in place for his mentor, Dr. Maria, to provide additional training on using instruments for EUA, such as Perkin's tonometer.

The observational visit by Bizuayehu helped her to learn the latest technologies available in modern eye care centres. She is also grateful to the partners from Stoke Mandeville who have donated equipment to help with the day to day routine of eye operations. Pulse Oximeter equipment and some medication brought by the UK colleagues have improved eye care services to many people as resources and time allow them to do. The team at Menelik II have also identified the need to ensure correct maintenance of Eye Equipment, and plans are currently underway to train the hospital’s technicians in order to make this equipment more sustainable.

100 years of difference is no more

In short, the link has created a great deal of capacity at Menelik II hospital in Paediatric Glaucoma, Anaesthesia, and Operation theatre nursing through observation visits and trainings. As a result of their work, 40 operations per day from minor operations to complex eye surgeries have been ensured which has directly resulted in recovery of eye sights from paediatrics to geriatrics.

IHLFS Team, British Council Ethiopia