Blindness in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is on the coast of West Africa, with Guinea to the north, Liberia to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west of the country. The country’s healthcare infrastructure had a slow start due to 11 years of civil war from 1991 to 2002 that hindered development. In 2010, the country launched its Free Health Care Initiative to increase coverage and accessibility throughout the country.
However, the initiative does not include eye care. This became an even greater problem following the Ebola outbreak in 2014, where survivors of the disease are at risk of developing uveitis, or inflammation of the eye, and becoming blind. If detected early, eye sight can be restored; however, with only 4 ophthalmologists in the entire country, many Sierra Leoneans will not receive proper eye care.
Due to its climate and location, people living in Sierra Leone are also at risk of getting onchocerciasis, or river blindness.
SEE in Sierra Leone
SEE has had a strong partnership with the Kissy Eye Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone for over 25 years.
In 2017, SEE volunteer ophthalmologists partnered with LDS charities and Dr. Moges Teshome at UMC Kissy Eye Hospital, to perform 39 sight-restoring surgeries. In order to build a sustainable means for patients in the area to receive eye care services year-round, SEE trained local staff and donated the remaining supplies to the hospital to be used by the local team.
In 2016, SEE held a MSICS wet-lab to train local doctors in the surgical technique, and training was continued in 2017 to develop the skills. Training local doctors in Sierra Leone is part of SEE’s commitment to build a sustainable, long-term eye care system in-country.