New Training Centre to improve cataract surgery in Latin America

Posted on: Wednesday, 25th April, 2018
Representatives of CBM, our partner hospital in Paraguay Fundación Visión and ZEISS International at the training centre opening ceremony in February 2018.

CBM, in collaboration with Zeiss, has opened a new training centre in Asunción, Paraguay to train eye surgeons across Latin America in the most effective techniques for cataract surgery. The centre is the first in Latin America to promote the phacoemulsification (‘phaco’) technique for removing cataracts, which has significant benefits for patients and is widely used in wealthy countries.

CBM’s Director of Inclusive Eye Health Babar Qureshi explains:

“We believe that everyone who needs a cataract operation, rich or poor, should have access to high quality surgery. For most patients, phaco surgery is the most effective way to remove cataracts with faster optical rehabilitation, but unless we train more doctors to use the technique, it will remain out of reach for most people in Latin America, Asia or Africa. So this training centre – the first of several we plan to open – is a significant step forward in improving eye health services for people living in the worlds’ poorest communities.”

Improving cataract surgery

Cataract remains the major cause of avoidable blindness globally, and over the years, cataract surgery techniques have evolved considerably. Compared to ‘small incision cataract surgery’ (SICS), the current standard technique widely used by CBM partners, phaco offers faster visual recovery due to a smaller incision size. This method of cataract surgery causes less astigmatism, meaning fewer patients needing glasses after surgery. Phaco surgery allows surgeons to safely operate on cataracts in the earlier stages of the disease, meaning that patients can receive treatment earlier.  Whilst not all cases are suitable for phaco surgery, an estimated 75-80% of patients could be operated with this technique.

Improving access to Phaco surgery

In most countries where CBM works, phaco surgery is currently only offered in the private sector. CBM aims to introduce phaco through a public health approach in order to strengthen existing health systems and make this state-of-the-art technology available to a broader public at an affordable price.

CBM plans to establish six regional phaco training centres by 2025 in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, working in collaboration with corporate partners. Our vision is that all cataract patients will have the opportunity to benefit from the latest sight restoration technology, regardless of their income.

The training centres will provide phaco training courses to qualified ophthalmologists from the region, including those working for CBM partners. This way we expect to increase the proportion of phaco surgeries among CBM’s cataract surgeries from approximately 10% today to 60%.

Curriculum development

Participants at the workshop in Bensheim (from left to right): Jason Penniecook, Will Dean, Karl Golnik, Rainer Brockhaus, Babar Qureshi, Eduardo Mayorga, Heiko Philippin, Andrea Brandt von Lindau, Fabian Schindler and Christine Graham.

Currently, a standardised, accredited teaching curriculum for phaco surgery does not exist globally. To address this need, CBM brought together experts from the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) as well as CBM partner ophthalmologists and programme managers for a 3-day workshop in Bensheim.

The workshop participants examined the areas of candidate selection; training objectives, including resources that already exist and those that need to be developed; programme evaluation; assessment methods; and accreditation. The completed curriculum will follow later this year.

Images: Top – Representatives of CBM, our partner hospital in Paraguay Fundación Visión and ZEISS International at the training centre opening ceremony in February. Left to right: Fernando Vangioni, Fundación Visión; Regine Polynice, CBM; Dr. Babar Qureshi, CBM; Seyfi Ceyhan, Carl Zeiss Meditec AG; Dr. Rainald Duerksen, CBM and founder at Fundación Visión; Fabian Schindler, CBM. Bottom – Participants at the workshop in Bensheim (from left to right): Jason Penniecook, Will Dean, Karl Golnik, Rainer Brockhaus, Babar Qureshi, Eduardo Mayorga, Heiko Philippin, Andrea Brandt von Lindau, Fabian Schindler and Christine Graham.



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