Dr. Srijana Adhikari
Cataract blindness and vision problems do not discriminate on the basis of age. Taking care of the youngest patients’ eyes requires specialized training. The results can be incredibly rewarding - when pediatric ophthalmologists treat issues, they prevent years of pain, challenges and decreased quality of life for their patients.
Dr. Srijana Adhikari is one of HCP’s most prolific pediatric ophthalmologists and master trainers. Since she joined the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in 2009, she has trained dozens of fellows and residents each year not only from Nepal, but from Indonesia, Ghana and Ethiopia.
For Dr. Adhikari, improving the lives of children has always been her goal. She originally wanted to be a pediatrician, but when she didn’t get into a pediatric residency program she chose to focus on ophthalmology instead. To fulfill her dream of working with children, she chose to specialize in pediatric ophthalmology.
“When I operate on children, and they can see again, it gives me immense pleasure,” she said. “One day I operated on a child with a cataract; the next day the child could see his younger sister properly for the first time and was hugging and kissing her. I can never forget the smile on that child’s face!”
Currently, as the Head of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus at Tilganga she oversees a department of three that screens over 25,000 children, provides about 400 surgeries and distributes approximately 200 pairs of glasses to children annually.
Dr. Adhikari feels good knowing her work brings change to the lives of her patients and their parents, and the impact of her training extends well beyond Nepal.
“I think that sharing your knowledge is very important. Until and unless you share your knowledge, nobody knows how much knowledge you have,” she shared. “Skill transfer is very important, so that your expertise can reach out to the people through the trainees you taught. When you see someone learning techniques from you and applying them in their daily practice, it feels very good.”
A notable example of the impact of her dedication to training others can be seen in HCP’s work in Ghana. When HCP started working in the country, there was no pediatric ophthalmology training program. After Ghanaian ophthalmologists trained under Dr. Adhikari in Nepal, not only were they able to start caring for the youngest of patients, but they began to train others in pediatrics - ultimately increasing the number of children served and creating more capacity for local, community care.
When Dr. Adhikari thinks about her contributions to the future of global eye care she’s hopeful that by training so many doctors, her skills can reach different corners of the world and help alleviate childhood blindness.
“Dr. Srijana is the most kind and humble mentor,” Dr. Kumale Tolesa, an Ethiopian ophthalmologist who recently completed a program at Tilgana said. “She always amazes me with her superfast surgical skill. She makes every step absolutely easy so that anyone who looks at her doing surgery feels like he/she can also do it in the same manner.”