CureBlindness | Look & Learn: Visit Allows for More Outreaches in 2024
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Look & Learn: Visit Allows for More Outreaches in 2024

news | Ethiopia | Nov 28, 2023

Visitors from Somaliland recently visited an outreach at Bisidimo to watch and learn from HCP’s experienced team to replicate the outreach after returning home.

One of the cornerstones of HCP’s model is capacity-building, including on-site and hands-on training. We’ve committed to this model with surgeons, with fellows, and with community health workers to increase local capacity through the transfer of skills. Potential and current partners also have the opportunity to visit and experience a surgical outreach to learn what’s needed to replicate one in their respective town or country.

Visitors from Somaliland recently shadowed an outreach at Bisidimo Hospital in Ethiopia. The idea for the planned visit came after a successful outreach in Somaliland in April 2023. The Somaliland visitors made the six-hour drive to learn HCP’s best practices to take home and duplicate. Somaliand has a large backlog of blindness and limited human resources currently.

Three team members from Hargeisa General Hospital (HGH) in Somaliland witnessed grace under pressure as the expected 1000 patient outreach at Bisidimo ballooned to a record breaking 1764 patients served.

High volume surgical outreaches have to be carefully planned and executed. Thousands of people move amongst each other, each with a role, each with a job. Medical staff usher patients, accompanied by caregivers, through an intricate series of stations and steps that allow for a smooth flow from patient check-in to bandage removal.

From managing patient flow to surgical prep, to providing food and shelter to patients and transportation to and from an outreach, visitors learn all of this plus how to manage pre- and post-operative care as well as biometry and quality-outcome cataract surgery.

Understanding this choreographed medical dance allows for more outreaches in new locations.


“The team learned important skills about how to organize and perform a high volume outreach successfully. They became vital team members and forged relationships with colleagues in their region who can continue to support them in the future,” explains Dr. Matt Oliva. “We are creating a ripple effect in the region where doctors and nurses that we have trained are now training counterparts in other countries and regions of the horn of Africa.”

It was inspiring for the Somaliland team to see what is possible with a dedicated team.

While the actuality of replicating this model can be intimidating, fears are outweighed by the inspiration of what they’ve witnessed and the promise of joy it will bring to patients back home.

It was “big smiles all around” for the Somaliland team as they saw how many lives could be changed by their work. They left feeling motivated to apply their new skills in their country and supported in this goal by our Ethiopian team.

“By working together and sharing resources and supporting one another in the battle against blindness, we will succeed,” says Oliva.

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