Dr. Mercy Dawson
One of HCP Cure Blindness’ long-time partners is Dr. Mercy Dawson, a local cataract surgeon in Ghana.
A practicing ophthalmologist for nearly 20 years, Dr. Dawson provides quality eye care throughout Ghana and supports the National Cataract Outreach Program (NCOP). The NCOP is a partnership between HCP Cure Blindness and Ghana’s Ministry of Health that appoints leaders to organize annual outreach events to eliminate the backlog of patients awaiting cataract surgery. Dr. Dawson’s impact in the field of global eye care is felt by patients and fellow doctors alike.
Dr. Dawson’s inspiration to provide quality eye care came while studying in an obstetrics and gynecology program in Akwatia. While in the program, she saw a need for eye care in that area because patients with vision problems were referred to Agogo - nearly 55 miles away. Many patients did not have the resources to make the trip, were afraid to travel or could not afford the treatment.
Once Dr. Dawson received training, she began participating in surgical outreach events to provide quality eye care. Knowing that many individuals with cataract blindness face barriers in receiving care is what motivates her to continuously join in these outreach efforts. She has spent time with eye care teams in India and worked with teams from the United Kingdom and the United States. She organizes outreach efforts in Ghana’s central region as part of her work with NCOP.
Whenever Dr. Dawson has a chance to join HCP Cure Blindness outreach efforts, she participates.
“I cannot remember exactly when I started working with HCP, but any time I’m called upon, I make time to join them to help my people.”
Dr. Dawson says the outreach events expose her to challenging situations which improve her surgical skills. She also credits HCP Cure Blindness with improving her skills by sponsoring her attendance at a conference in Rwanda where she met renowned ophthalmologists from other parts of the world and was introduced to innovative ways of solving problems encountered during cataract surgeries.
During these outreach events, Dr. Dawson directly impacts the lives of those in need of care by performing cataract surgeries. When Dr. Dawson treats patients, she describes the moment after surgery as “profound”.
“That moment after a successful surgery, when the patients’ eyes begin to perceive their surroundings and get accustomed to the light, my heart is warmed and all I feel is pure joy,” she says.
While talking to HCP Cure Blindness, Dr. Dawson recalled one particular surgery where she treated a man who had been blind in both eyes for five years. A day after his surgery, when Dr. Dawson removed his eye patches, he gazed upon his wife who had accompanied him to the hospital and exclaimed, “Abena, I didn’t know you looked so beautiful!”
Dr. Dawson’s hopefor the future of eye care in Ghana is for everyone to have quality, comprehensive, accessible and affordable eye care service irrespective of their geographical location. Her work through NCOP is making that future a reality with the outreaches she organizes and support she provides to medical personnel in the field of eye care.
NCOP advocates and provides support for young doctors who are interested in providing quality eye care - especially in rural and underserved areas. Dr. Dawson believes it is her responsibility to mentor these young doctors. Her hope is for them to take over and advance the future of global eye care and provide for those in need of quality eye care.
After treating hundreds of patients, Dr. Dawson says she has learned that sight, like most things taken for granted, should be cherished.