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Ugandan ophthalmologist trains with Hotel Dieu eye specialists

Ugandan ophthalmologist trains with Hotel Dieu eye specialists

In early November, Hotel Dieu Hospital’s Ophthalmology department responded to a request from the Queen of England by welcoming Dr. Moses Kasadhakawo and offering him a six-week observership to acquire skills needed to prevent avoidable blindness back in his home hospital in Uganda.

A consultant ophthalmologist at the Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala, Dr. Kasadhakawo is here largely to observe the management of retinal conditions, as well as clinics in glaucoma, cornea, oculoplastics and neuro-ophthalmology. His clinical fellowship is supported by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and administered by the International Centre for Eye Health. The Trust program focuses on ending preventable blindness in Commonwealth countries and matches ophthalmologists without sub-specialist training with specialist centres that offer it.

One of only 35 practicing ophthalmologists in Uganda (population 40 million), Dr. Kasadhakawo says he jumped at the chance to come to Kingston for sub-specialty training, especially in the area of diabetic eye disease (e.g., diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma) given the dramatic upsurge in diabetes in recent years back home.

“We don’t have enough trained staff to handle all of the diabetes-related eye disease coming at us, so when opportunity knocked in the form of the Trust fellowship, I answered,” he says.  “I’m here to grab as much training as I can.”

That includes getting more practice with diagnostic tools such as Optical coherence tomography (OCT) and fundus retinal photography, both used to document diabetic retinopathy.  His home hospital only recently acquired the first OCT instrument in the country courtesy of a collaboration between hospitals in the United Kingdom and Africa.

At Hotel Dieu he has been very impressed by the ophthalmologists’ obvious dedication to their work and patients—“they work up every single patient thoroughly and get right to the problem”—and by the streamlined and efficient management of patient files and data via an electronic medical record.

He says that international outreach opportunities are vital to building eye care programs in less privileged nations, where people are suffering unnecessarily due to avoidable eye disease.  In fact, it was an experience with a patient whose eyesight and quality of life were dramatically restored that propelled him into specializing in ophthalmology.

“Our big challenge is building capacity to care for so many patients,” he says.  “We need more training and equipment so we can create sustainable ophthalmology programs.  That’s why we welcome the spirit of outreach in eye programs around the world.”

It’s a spirit that has long defined the Ophthalmology Department, says Department Head Dr. Martin ten Hove.

“We’re very excited to participate in the program run by the International Centre for Eye Health in London,” he says, noting that the Department faculty have taught around the globe, including Tanzania, Trinidad, Jamaica, Philippines and the Czech Republic.

“We’re particularly proud that our Ophthalmology residents have participated in service missions worldwide, with each outreach experience bringing a unique perspective on global health and eye care.  Having Dr. Kasadhakawo join us from Uganda is no exception.  We’re delighted that he asked to be trained at Hotel Dieu Hospital.”


I’d like to thank the HDH communications team for allowing me to repurpose this story, as it originally appeared in the November 26th edition of Hotel Dieu’s hdhEnews. If you would like to leave a comment, please feel free to do so below, or better yet, drop by the Macklem House…my door is always open.


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