CureBlindness | Dr. Haftamu Assefa
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Dr. Haftamu Assefa

profiles | May 31, 2018

“I work at Quiha Eye Hospital, where there are only two ophthalmologists who serve more than eight million people"

So far in 2018, HCP has provided 88 training opportunities to ophthalmic personnel from Ethiopia. We continue to increase eye care services in the country by building a network of skilled, dedicated eye care professionals to provide accessible, high-quality cataract and ophthalmic care. One such example is the story of Dr. Haftamu Assefa, an ophthalmologist at Quiha Eye Hospital and staff member at Mekelle University’s College of Health Sciences in the Ophthalmology Department.

Born in Meswait and raised in Maychew, Ethiopia, located around 120 kilometers to the south of Mekelle, Haftamu studied at the University of Gondar and Addis Ababa University respectively. Dr. Haftamu describes his journey in Ophthalmology and connection to HCP.

“After I completed my undergraduate studies at Gondar University, I worked as general practitioner in the Afar region, which is one of the remote and hottest areas of the country. Soon afterwards, I applied to Addis Ababa University and studied ophthalmology, which was supported by the generosity of HCP Advisor and longtime supporter, Dr. David Chang through HCP and the ASCRS Foundation.

My draw towards ophthalmology came from an incident that happened while I was young and in elementary school. My very close friend sustained an eye injury and because there was no an eye care service provider in or near our town, he couldn’t get treatment and lost his vision.My first contact with HCP was at a high volume outreach while I was a general practitioner at Quiha Zonal Hospital. I got the opportunity to participate as screener and observe in a couple small incision cataract surgeries conducted at the Quiha Eye Hospital, which inspired me a lot.

During my residency, I received financial support from HCP, which helped me focus on my studies and be successful without any burdens. Later on, to increase the knowledge of myself and my peers, HCP organized guest lecturers to teach and share their experience with Ethiopian residents. To improve my skill, I had the opportunity to attend a high volume cataract surgery conducted in Merabete which was organized by HCP.

Currently, I work at Quiha Eye Hospital, in the Tigray region - where there are only two ophthalmologists who serve more than eight million people. The reason I am dedicated to working there is to share the burden and to serve the community where I am from.

I see bright future for eye care services in Ethiopia; even if there are a lot of limitations. The number of training centers and graduating ophthalmologists are increasing every year and the number of secondary eye care centers is increasing as well. However, much effort is still needed to increase the opportunity for subspecialty training programs and improving the quality of service, which HCP is making a real impact.

I would like to thank HCP for supporting me in achieving my dreams and continuing in my career.

Dr. Haftamu Assefa"

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