Moran brings vital care overseas
For years the Moran Eye Center’s International Division has been performing charitable surgeries and providing medical training to impoverished areas throughout the world. The center is now expanding its services to hospitals in the Caribbean.
The center signed a memorandum of understanding in July with the San Fernando General Hospital in Trinidad and Tobago and also partnered with its Ministry of Health. The memo outlines the plan to increase the number of sub-specialists in San Fernando, as well as a plan to modernize the residency program. This will increase surgical efficiency and the number of patients treated.
“One of the goals of the Moran is to cure blindness worldwide,” said Michael Yei, manager of the international program at the center. “[The international partnerships] allow us to build centers of excellence regionally.”
There are nearly 40 million blind people worldwide, 90 percent of whom are from developing countries, and 80 percent of those cases are curable, Yei said.
“They have good eye care, but they don’t have great eye care,” he said. “The International Division’s goal is to prevent unnecessary blindness and bring promising physicians to train here, and pass along that training to the next generation.”
The blind in most developing countries require some sort of caregiver. Much of the time, these caregivers are children, and often these children are the youngest girl in each family.
“There are about 1.5 caregivers for each blind person … that adds up to three family members affected by blindness,” Yei said.
The partnership has an exchange of two doctors from each center. Since the signing of the memo, Ronnie Bhola and Anil Armoogum have come from Trinidad and Tobago to the Moran, and Robert Hoffman and Geoff Tabin have been to the center in Trinidad and Tobago.
To begin this partnership, Bhola made his first trip to the Moran Eye Center during the first week of this month to work with the center’s retina team on surgical techniques, along with working with administrators to improve operations at San Fernando.
“Blindness … is reversible, and reversing it is doable for us here at the Moran,” said Jeff Pettey, associate director of the International Program.
Pettey said many countries have general ophthalmologists, but not sub-specialists in ophthalmology.
“[Creating international partnerships] is the next logical step when you’ve got cutting-edge care,” he said. “To not develop international centers would be a tragedy.”
Currently, the center and its partners provide clinical training and support to more than 30 locations globally, including regions in Africa, Asia and Central and South America.