CureBlindness | Partnership delivers increased care to Tanzania
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Partnership delivers increased care to Tanzania

news | Tanzania | Sep 29, 2022

HCP is partnering with Helen Keller Intl this year in Tanzania. The collaboration, which pairs Helen Keller’s expertise in Trachomatous Trichiasis (TT) care and HCP’s in cataract care, will ensure that local practitioners reach more patients in need through their already existent TT case finding and clinical flow.

Earlier this year, five Tanzanian eye care professionals attended an outreach in Ethiopia to work directly with staff from the HCP Ethiopia team and HCP Board Member Dr. Matt Oliva during the week-long outreach where nearly 1,200 patients had their sight restored. The team of Tanzanians have worked with Helen Keller to treat Trachomatous Trichiasis (TT) in the Mbeya Region of their home country.

Since their time in Ethiopia, the team of Tanzanians continued to receive support and guidance from HCP from afar to pair their TT case finding with cataract screening. Processes for monthly high-volume cataract surgical outreaches were established and outreach equipment, provided by HCP, arrived in-country to begin work. With over 500 cataract cases identified, the project’s surgical schedule solidified.

HCP’s Co-Founder, Dr. Geoff Tabin, arrived in Mbeya earlier this month to support Dr. Barnabas and his team for their first high-volume cataract outreach. He was supported by two other surgeons from the US to work closely with the Tanzania team of two surgeons, two optometrists, and three ophthalmic nurses to deliver their first high-volume cataract outreach at the Mbarali District Hospital in Rujewa.

The Tanzanian team demonstrated the outreach management skills they’d mastered in Ethiopia, and over four days together, the team restored sight to nearly 300 patients. The exposure to hundreds of surgeries offered an immense opportunity for Dr. Tabin and his team to bolster the Helen Keller team’s clinical skills and small incision cataract surgery expertise.

“My youngest child is eight years old now, and the last time I saw his face was when he was 4 years old. My other relatives and my youngest son still don’t believe that I can really see again. They are waiting to see me prove it,” said a forty-three-year-old man who received surgery in both eyes.

Another patient shared, “I can’t believe that I can see again, I had lost hope.”

At the outreach, long lasting relationships among the Tanzanian and the US teams were built, clinical skills were gained, and the teams showed the true success of the HCP-Helen Keller Mbeya pilot: reaching those in need of care through a collaboration leveraging two organizations’ expertise. Soon, both will look to the neighboring district of Songwe to scale this approach which pairs TT and cataract care to ensure no one is left behind.

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